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Last Moments of Adam Air Flight KI-574

Government Releases Findings from Flight Data Recorders Recovered from the Ocean Floor.

(3/31/2008) The long awaited analysis covering the last minutes inside the cockpit of the Adam Air Flight KI-574 as it plunged into the sea off Sulawesi on January 1, 2007, were formally released in Jakarta on Tuesday, March 25, 2008.

The flight data and voice recorders that were recovered some 9 months after the actual crash with the assistance of a special recovery submarine from the U.S. Navy assisting Indonesian air transportations officials. For the past 6 months the "black box" recorders underwent intense analysis by Indonesian officials and representatives of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The Indonesia National Committee for Transportation Safety (KNKT) concluded that a malfunction in the Inertial Reference System (IRS) that occurred 13 minutes before the plane struck the ocean at a speed of 1,000 km per hour diverted the pilot's and co-pilot's attention, leaving them largely unaware as the aircraft pitched and yawed into a steep dive.

The NTSB report said:

"this accident was the result of the failure of the pilots to monitor the flight instruments, particularly during the final 2 minutes of the flight, and to detect an unexpected descent soon enough to prevent loss of control and impact with the water. Preoccupation with an apparent malfunction of the IRS distracted both pilots' attention from the flight instruments and allowed the increasing descent and bank angle to go unnoticed. It is evident that the pilots allowed their attention to be channelized, and they lost situational awareness, and became spatially disoriented at a critical phase of the flight. They were not aware of the changes to the aircraft attitude."

The NTSB report also stated that while the IRS was affected, the pilots ignored both the Pilot in Command (PIC) flight instruments and the Attitude Direction Indicator (ADI) - either sets of instruments believed to be operational and and "therefore available to ensure safe operation of the aircraft."

The voice data recovered showed the pilots were pre-occupied with a malfunctioning piece of navigation equipment, continuing to ignore other cockpit instrumentation that would have allowed an attitude recovery on the ill-fated Boeing 737 as it entered into a right turn of one degree per second. 35 seconds into that turn, three "bank angle" warnings sounded in the cockpit signaling that the plane was flying at a sideway angle exceeding 35 degrees. As the pilots feverously tried to correct the plane's position, data also showed that the plane suffered a structural failure.

In reporting to the press, a KNKT official said the sideway angle of the plane continued to increase to an semi-inverted angle of 100 degree while the nose of the aircraft pitched downward. Experts estimate the aircraft was traveling at 0.926 mach and undergoing a debilitating -2.8 g-force when it struck the ocean surface and disintegrated.

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