Passengers on what became the penultimate flight of the Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 that crashed off Indonesia have described technical delays and a "roller coaster" ride that caused some to panic and vomit.The three-month old jet plunged into the Java Sea early Monday just 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta on a short internal flight. All 189 on board are presumed dead.The pilot of Flight JT610 had requested clearance to return to the airport moments after takeoff, although it is unclear why.It emerged that the doomed aircraft encountered technical problems on its previous flight — a Sunday evening trip from Denpasar, Bali, to Jakarta, as Flight JT43.
Alon Soetanto told TVOne that the plane dropped suddenly several times in the first few minutes of that journey."About three to eight minutes after it took off, I felt like the plane was losing power and unable to rise. That happened several times," he said. "We felt like in a roller coaster. Some passengers began to panic and vomit."His account is consistent with data from flight-tracking sites that show erratic speed, altitude and direction in the minutes after the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet took off. A similar pattern is also seen in data pinged from Monday's fatal flight.Safety experts cautioned, however, that the data must be checked for accuracy against the plane's flight data recorders.An image purportedly showing a page of the aircraft's technical log was circulating on social media but aviation analyst Jon Ostrower cautioned that the picture was unverified.
The NTSB said it will send five investigators to Indonesia.Lion Air president Edward Sirait said those problems were resolved in accordance with Boeing procedures and the plane was cleared to fly again on Monday.Another passenger on Sunday evening's flight, Indonesian TV anchor and sportscaster Conchita Caroline, said the plane returned to the gate at Denpasar with a technical problem before takeoff.She said passengers sat in the cabin without air conditioning for at least 30 minutes listening to an "unusual" engine roar, while some children vomited from the heat, until staff faced with rising anger let them disembark. After a further 30 minutes of waiting, they were told to board again while an engine was checked.Caroline said she questioned a staff member but was met with a defensive response. "He just showed me the flight permit that he had signed and he said the problem had been settled," she said. "He treated me like a passenger full of disturbing dramas even though what I was asking represented friends and confused tourists who didn't understand Indonesian."Divers on Tuesday continued their search for victims while the airline flew dozens of grieving relatives to Jakarta."This is a very difficult time for our family," said Leo Sihombing, outside a crisis center at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport.