Sriwijaya Air Crash Probe Eyes Autothrottle


Investigators are looking into the possibility that an autothrottle problem contributed to the fatal crash of Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 near Jakarta, Indonesia, on Jan. 9, 2021. While the data has not been made public, information from the Boeing 737-500’s flight data recorder allegedly indicates that the system was causing one engine to produce more thrust than the other prior to the accident. It has also been reported that pilots on an earlier flight in the same aircraft experienced an autothrottle malfunction.

Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 went down in the Java Sea at 2:40 p.m. local time, approximately four minutes after takeoff from Jakarta’s Soekarno–Hatta International Airport (CGK) en route to Pontianak, Indonesia. The 737 is believed to have been intact with the engines running when it hit the water. The accident aircraft returned to flight on Dec. 19 following nine months on the ground due to coronavirus-related air travel reductions.

Authorities suspended the search for victims of the accident on Thursday, with all 62 people on board presumed dead. The search for the cockpit voice recorder continues. The investigation is ongoing and a preliminary report has not yet been published.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. these authrottles if similar to the B-767/757 need to be monitored carefully, Ive experienced one throttle moving much farther forward or rearward from the other (B-767) due to some mis-rigging issue, but it was readily apparent as the levers split as well…

  2. “It has also been reported that pilots on an earlier flight in the same aircraft experienced an autothrottle malfunction.”
    Yeah, this. Forewarned is forearmed.

  3. Allow your plane to crash because of an auto throttle problem is unconceivable.
    Now we are like the stab trim cut off thing?
    Y’know what I mean?

    • No, this is way worse. With the 737 Max accidents I was willing to cut the pilots some slack and put a lot of the blame on Boeing because they changed the auto-trim behavior in subtle ways **and didn’t tell anyone**.

      If the report is accurate, this is a straightforward split throttle / asymmetric thrust rollover. There’s nothing new here. Check me on this: Autothrottle on Boeings actually moves the throttle levers, right? Even if not, the problem at hand should have been obvious from a glance at the engine gauges. This is looking like a blatant failure to fly the airplane in the face of a minor failure.

      Underlying it, of course, is there appears to be an equipment failure based on a previously reported problem. This speaks to a “live with it” attitude toward maintenance that also figured in the Lion Air 610 accident.

  4. Having flown the older glass and auto-throttle Boeings, 737,57,67 I flew with manual throttle manipulation much of the time. In fact, I didn’t like giving up a leg to the automation so flew them like a 727 until reaching altitude and loved every minute of it…only then did I hook everything up. Automation seems to breed auto idiots.