Investigators Reveal The Doomed Lion Air Flight Flew Nose-First Into Sea At 643KPH

The Flight JT-610, a new Boeing 737 Max 8, slammed into the Java Sea with such brute force that some metal fittings onboard were reduced to powder.

Cover image via CBS News via REUTERS

The final moments of the Lion Air Flight 610 were terrifying but swift, as it hurtled from a calm Indonesian sky into the Java Sea

According to a story in the New York Times (NYT), the US and Indonesian investigators who are working hard to find what caused Flight 610 to plunge into the sea, know that in the days before the crash the plane had experienced repeated problems in some of the same systems that could have led the aircraft to go into a nose-dive.

Earlier this week, the US Federal Aviation Administration warned that erroneous data processed in Max 8 jet could cause the plane to abruptly nose-dive. Now investigators examining Flight 610 are trying to determine if that's what happened.

Indonesian Navy personnel recovering wheels from Lion Air Flight 610 last week.

Image via Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

The Lion Air flight, a single-aisle Boeing aircraft which was practically new, appears to have plummeted nose-first into the water with as much as 643km per hour in less than a minute

In fact, the aircraft slammed into the sea with such brute force that some metal fittings onboard were reduced to powder, and its flight data recorder tore loose from its armoured box, propelled into the muddy seabed, reported NYT.

At 643kph, the flight was hurtling towards the sea with almost three times the speed of the fastest roller coaster speed in the world, which has a top speed of 240kph.

The situation that unfolded as the flight went into a nose-dive would have left the captain and his co-pilot overwhelmed in seconds

31-year-old Bhavye Suneja, who was the Flight 610's captain, and Harvino, his 41-year-old co-pilot, needed to make decisions in seconds, at a moment of near-certain panic.

According to a global bulletin issued by Boeing this week, which advised pilots to follow its operations manual in cases similar to what happened to the Lion Air flight, the Indian citizen captain and his Indonesian co-pilot needed to have had to recognise that a problem with the readings on the cockpit display was causing the sudden descent.

Then, according to the FAA, they would have had to grab physical control of the plane.

However, that would not have been a simple matter of pushing a button.

"To expect someone at a moment of high pressure to do everything exactly right is really tough," Alvin Lie, an Indonesian aviation expert and the country's ombudsman, was quoted as saying by the New York Times, adding, "That's why you don't want to ever put a pilot in that situation if there's anything you can do to stop it."

Family members grieved over the coffins of Flight 610 victims.

Image via Ed Wray/Getty Images

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