Indonesian investigators said on Thursday that the cockpit voice recorder from a crashed Lion Air Boeing Co 737 MAX 8 jet showed that pilots were searching for the right checklist in their handbooks and were experiencing airspeed and altitude issues.
Investigators said they have 90% of the data needed for a final report on the October crash that killed 189 people. The report is now expected to be released in August. Nurcahyo Utomo, an investigator at Indonesia’s national transportation committee (KNKT), said the recording showed there was “panic” in the cockpit in the last 20 seconds of the flight.
“At the end of the flight it seemed the pilot felt he could no longer recover the flight, then the panic emerged,” he said.
The investigation has taken on new urgency after a second 737 MAX 8 crash at Ethiopian Airlines last week killed 157 people and led to the global grounding of the model. French air accident investigation agency BEA said on Tuesday that the flight data recorder in the Ethiopian crash showed “clear similarities” to the Lion Air disaster.
Investigators on Thursday confirmed that there was a third, off-duty pilot in the cockpit that evening. That was not mentioned in the preliminary report because they had not interviewed the pilot at that stage as they worked to get the report out fast, Mr. Utomo said.