Indonesian investigators determine 737 Max design flaw and oversight lapses in Lion Air crash: WSJ

JAKARTA - Indonesian investigators have found that design and oversight lapses played a key role in the fatal crash of a Boeing Co's 737 MAX jet in October, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday (Sept 22).

The draft conclusions, which is expected to be the first formal government finding that the design and US regulatory approval were flawed, also identifies a string of pilot errors and maintenance mistakes as causal factors of the Lion Air crash, killing all 189 aboard, WSJ said.

The plane has been grounded since March in the aftermath of two fatal crashes in five months.

A Boeing spokesman did not comment on the WSJ report but said the plane maker continues to offer support to the investigating authorities as they complete the report.

Soerjanto Tjahjono, the head of Indonesia’s transport safety committee, told Reuters he could not comment before the release of the final report, which is expected by early November.  

He said several stakeholders, but not all, had already provided feedback on a draft of the final report that has not been released publicly.  

The draft was circulated to parties including Boeing, Lion Air and the US Federal Aviation Administration on Aug. 24.  

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“There are stakeholders that have sent their answers to us and we are evaluating them,” Tjahjono said.

US air crash investigators are readying to announce a handful of separate safety recommendations, from bolstering pilots' manual flying skills to boosting Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) vetting of new aircraft designs, the paper added.

Around month-end, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is expected to call for improvements to cockpit training and crew decision making and focus on potential changes to certification of new airliners, WSJ said.

The NTSB declined to comment on the WSJ report but said it planned to release recommendations on the FAA's certification programme sometime in September.

The FAA welcomed the scrutiny from safety experts and looked forward to their findings, it said in a statement.

"We continue to work with other international aviation safety regulators and will carefully consider all recommendations," it added.

"The FAA will incorporate any changes that would improve our certification activities."