A malfunctioning automatic throttle may have caused the pilots of a Sriwijaya Air jet to lose control, leading to the Boeing 737-500's plunge into the Java Sea last month, Indonesian investigators have said. National transportation safety committee investigators said on Wednesday they were still struggling to understand why the jet nosedived into the water minutes after taking off from Jakarta on 9 January, killing all 62 people on board. The investigators issued a preliminary report that provided new details of the pilots' struggle to fly the plane almost as soon as it became airborne. The lead investigator, Nurcahyo Utomo, said the left engine's throttle lever moved backwards on its own while autopilot was engaged, reducing the power output of that engine before the jet plunged into the sea. He said pilots of previous flights had reported problems with the automatic throttle system on the 26-year-old jet. The pilots' last conversation with air traffic control was about four minutes after takeoff, when the crew responded to an instruction to go up to 13,000 feet (4km). The plane's flight-data recorder showed the plane reached an altitude of 10,900 feet (3.3km) and then began declining, Utomo said. While on autopilot, power to the… Read full this story
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