News & Opinion | March 20, 2019 3:00 pm

Pilot Avoided Disaster on Boeing 737 Max 8 Flight One Day Before Lion Crash: Report

The pilot told the crew to cut power to the motor that was driving the nose down.

Investigators with the U.S. National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) look over debris at the crash site of an Ethiopian Airlines jet. (Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
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An off-duty pilot jumped in to help a Lion Air crew of a Boeing 737 Max 8 jet as it experienced difficulties in October according to a new report from Bloomberg.

The additional pilot hailing a ride in the cockpit was able to correctly identify the problem, according to Bloomberg, and told the crew how to disable a malfunctioning flight-control system and save the plane.

This new information about the potential avoidance of a third Boeing crash came from two sources familiar with the investigation currently underway in Indonesia.

The very next day after the spare pilot avoided disaster, a different crew faced what investigators are now calling an identical malfunction and a Lion Air flight crashed into the Java Sea killing all 189 aboard.

Bloomberg‘s report found that the pilot on the salvaged flight told the crew to cut power to the motor in the trim system that was driving the nose down — part of a checklist that all pilots are required to memorize.

To compare, the crew on the flight that crashed the next day didn’t know how to respond to the malfunction, Bloomberg‘s sources alleged, and they could be heard on the plane’s now-recovered cockpit voice recorder checking their quick reference handbook in the minutes before they crashed.

Additionally, the Indonesia safety committee report said the plane had had multiple failures on previous flights and hadn’t been properly repaired. Airline mechanics allegedly tried four times to fix related issues and after pilots reported issues with incorrect displays workers in Denspasar, Bali, replaced a key sensor that is used by the Boeing plane to drive down its nose if it senses an emergency.