JAKARTA (INDONESIA) – Indonesia’s air accident investigator is probing whether trouble with the autothrottle system contributed to the Sriwijaya Air crash on Jan. 9 that killed all 62 people on board, an official said on Friday.
National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) investigator Nurcayho Utomo said a problem with the Boeing 737-500’s autothrottle system was reported after a flight a few days earlier. The autothrottle controls engine power automatically,
“There was a report of malfunction on the autothrottle a couple of days before to the technician in the maintenance log, but we do not know what kind of problem,” he said. “If we find the CVR (cockpit voice recorder) we can hear the discussion between the pilots, what they talked about and we will know what is the problem.”
He added that it is acceptable for a plane to fly with an autothrottle system that is not working since the pilots can control it manually.
Sriwijaya Air said they are unable to comment on technical matters involving the investigation before an official statement was released by KNKT.
In line with international standards a preliminary report is expected to be issued within 30 days of the crash.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Thursday reported citing a source that the FDR data showed the autothrottle system was not operating properly on one of the plane’s engines as it climbed on departure from Jakarta.
The report went on to state that instead of shutting off the system, the FDR indicated the pilots tried to get the stuck throttle to function.A move which could create significant differences in power between engines, making the jet harder to control.
While the plane’s flight data recorder (FDR) has been recovered and read by investigators, an underwater search for the CVR’s memory unit at the crash site in the Java Sea is continuing.