Doubts on Photo evidence in Air crash probe

money-glitz | Bloomberg 21 Oct 2019

Weeks after a Lion Air jet crashed in the Java Sea, killing all 189 aboard, an airline employee gave investigators photographs meant to show that a crucial repair had been properly performed the day before the disaster.

Yet the pictures may not show what was claimed.

The time displayed in photos of a computer screen in the cockpit of the Boeing 737 Max indicated they had actually been taken before the repair was performed, according to a draft of the final crash report being prepared by Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee, portions of which were reviewed by Bloomberg News.

Investigators were similarly unable to confirm the authenticity of other pictures in the packet, which were supposed to show how a piece of equipment near the jet's nose had been calibrated, according to the report.

There were indications that the pictures depicted a different plane, according to two people familiar with the investigation.

The draft report doesn't say whether anyone falsified or misrepresented the pictures - which would be considered a serious breach of protocol - but concludes that they may not be valid evidence.

The incident injected additional tension into the already fraught international investigation in which billions of dollars and the reputations of airlines, manufacturers and entire nations are on the line.

According to one person briefed on the matter, the Indonesia-based airline has told investigators that the allegations about the photos are unsubstantiated and should not be mentioned in the final report of the October 2018 crash.

But to others involved in one of the most significant accident probes in decades, it could represent an attempt to mislead investigators about a critical aspect of the case and needs to be documented, said two other people who were briefed about the existence of the photos.

Lion Air spokesman Danang Prihantoro said he could not comment on the investigation. Representatives of the US Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing and National Transportation Safety Board declined to comment on the existence of the photos.


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