Lion Air families to meet Indonesia safety agency ahead

Last Updated 23 October 2019, 07:09 IST

Families of those killed when a Lion Air plane crashed off Indonesia last year are expected to meet safety regulators on Wednesday to be briefed on a final report into the disaster that could be released within days.

All 189 passengers and crew died when the 737 MAX jet slammed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta last October.

Indian national Bhavye Suneja, the pilot of the plane, was also killed in the crash.

The model was grounded worldwide after an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crashed after taking off from Addis Ababa in March, killing 157 people aboard.

Preliminary investigations into both accidents implicated the plane's Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), an automated flight-handling mechanism that pilots were unable to control.

An initial report into the Indonesian crash also took aim at budget carrier Lion Air's safety culture.

Last month, a plaintiffs' attorney told AFP that Boeing had so far reached settlements with 11 families of victims in the crash. On Wednesday, dozens of grieving relatives were due to meet with investigators from Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee to be briefed on the conclusions of their final report into the crash.

Indonesia media have said the report could be released as early as Friday.

The meeting comes after Boeing on Tuesday replaced the chief of its commercial plane division, the most significant executive departure since the 737 MAX grounding plunged the company into crisis seven months ago.

The crashes and grounding of the MAX have dented Boeing's reputation, with the crashes having already cost the US planemaker billions of dollars and sparked calls to reform its corporate culture and transparency issues.

Uncertainty continues to cloud Boeing's timeframe for returning the single-aisle jet to service.

A report released by international regulators said the US Federal Aviation Administration lacked the manpower and expertise to fully evaluate the jet's MCAS system when it certified the plane.

Boeing faced new scrutiny following text messages from November 2016 in which a Boeing pilot described the MCAS during a simulation as "running rampant" and behaving in an "egregious" manner.

Boeing shared the messages with the Department of Justice in February.

But the FAA learned of their existence only recently and publicly criticised Boeing for withholding the documents.

(Published 23 October 2019, 07:09 IST)

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