JAKARTA: Indonesian investigators said on Thursday (Mar 21) the cockpit voice recorder from a crashed Lion Air Boeing Co 737 MAX 8 jet showed pilots were searching for the right checklist in their handbooks and were experiencing airspeed and altitude issues.
The details revealed at a press conference corroborated a Reuters report on Wednesday that was based on three sources with knowledge of the cockpit voice recorder's contents.
Investigators said they have 90 per cent of the data needed to release a final report on the October crash that killed 189 people, which is expected in August.
Nurcahyo Utomo, an investigator at Indonesia's national transportation committee (KNKT) said the recording showed there was "panic" in the cockpit in the last 20 seconds of the flight.
"At the end of the flight it seemed the pilot felt he could no longer recover the flight, then the panic emerged," he said while declining to say which of the two pilots panicked.
The investigation has taken on new urgency after a second 737 MAX 8 crash at Ethiopian Airlines last week killed 157 people and led to the global grounding of the model.
French air accident investigation agency BEA said on Tuesday the flight data recorder in the Ethiopian crash showed "clear similarities" to the Lion Air disaster.
Investigators examining the Indonesian crash are considering how a computer ordered the plane to dive in response to data from a faulty sensor and whether the pilots had enough training to respond appropriately to the emergency, among other factors.