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>> It's one of the worst air disasters in Indonesia's history, that's killed 189 people and is raising big questions about the country's air safety record. A Reuters exclusive revealed on Friday that one day before Monday's crash, the plane's pilot made a so-called pan-pan call, that's an alert signal just one step below a mayday.
The aircraft was reportedly flying erratically with unreliable airspeed and altitude readings. One passenger told a local talk show the plane had dropped violently and was shaking after takeoff, and the passengers were reciting prayers. The pilot of another plane heard the radio conversation between the Lion Air crew and the airport control tower on Sunday, he said the plane made the pan-pan call but cancelled it soon after.
Seven hours later, the same plane took off and its pilot, again, made a request to return to base shortly before plunging into the sea. The black box recorder was retrieved from what remains of the Lion Air plane on Thursday. It's hoped it will give a clearer picture of what went fatally wrong.
So far, only fragments of the plane have been retrieved along with personal items believed to belong to passengers. Indonesia's transport minister said the country is considering increasing the rates set by low-cost carriers like Lion Air, and a review of all flight safety regulations has been ordered. It's also put a spotlight on Boeing, whose 737 Max was only introduced into commercial service last year, and until Monday had an accident free record.