Possible faulty equipment that led to the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 was the same sort of sensing gear that contributed to the crash of an Air New Zealand A320 off Perpignan 10 years ago.

A failure of air flow monitoring pitot tubes on board the Lion Air Boeing 737 has been cited as a possible contributor to yesterday's crash off Indonesia which killed 189 people.

A report in the New York Times says the erratic flight path before the high speed plunge indicated a problem with the pressure sensitive instruments near the nose of the plane.

"The erratic flight path makes us suspect a problem with the pitot-static system," said Gerry Soejatman, an Indonesian aviation expert.

Data from the flight indicated an ''erratic climb and ground speed problem", leading him to suspect a problem with the instruments had also been an issue then.


Several plane crashes have been blamed on blockages or other problems with pitot tubes which resulted in erroneous speed or altitude readings, the Times reported.

In November 2008 an Airbus A320 that had been leased by Air New Zealand to a European carrier crashed, killing two German pilots and five New Zealanders on board.
The plane had been on a routine test flight, prior to being handed back to Air New Zealand by XL Airways Germany, a charter company that had been leasing it for the previous two years.

An inquiry found that the crash was triggered by a test that was conducted at low speed and low altitude, throwing the plane into a stall from which it failed to recover.

The ill-fated manoeuvre arose especially from makeshift preparations for the exercise and poor coordination between the German and New Zealand crew on board, the Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses (BEA) said after a 22-month inquiry.

But compounding their mistake was a malfunction in two out of three external probes that feed the A320's complex computerised flight system with vital data about air flow.

The plane had been repainted and rinsed by a French maintenance company three days before the test, the investigation found. Water entered these so-called angle of attack (AOA) sensors, causing them to freeze and thus skewing the avionics.

A year later, in 2009, a Rio-to-Paris Air France flight disappeared over the Atlantic with the loss of all 228 people on board. An inquiry found that the plane flew into a thunderstorm, which froze the crucial speed sensors, resulting in the pilots flying blind and leading to a mid-air stall.

Indonesian actress Conchita Caroline had concerns about the doomed Lion Air plane after flying on it the day before. Photo / Supplied
Indonesian actress Conchita Caroline had concerns about the doomed Lion Air plane after flying on it the day before. Photo / Supplied

Today a passenger who was on the ill-fated Lion Air aircraft a day before the crash outlined concerns about the plane.


Indonesian actress and TV presenter Conchita Caroline said her flight from Bali to Jakarta struck problems.

As the plane readied for takeoff, an engine seemed to die several times, the air conditioning was faulty and the floor beneath her felt hot to touch.

Lion Air's chief executive Edward Surat said yesterday there was a report of a technical issue from that fight but that had been resolved ''according to procedure" before Flight 610 took off.

Following the crash Boeing's stock price fell by almost 7 per cent. Lion Air is an important customer for its 737s.