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Silk Air MI 185 - Court commences in Singapore

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Silk Air MI 185 - Court commences in Singapore

Old 8th Jul 2001, 22:42
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Latest News - Singapore
06 July 06:36PM -- Singapore Time
SilkAir crash no accident, says expert witness SINGAPORE -- A SilkAir jet which crashed in 1997 killing 104 people 'was literally driven into the ground,' an expert witness told a court hearing on Friday, arguing the fatal plunge was deliberate. 'To achieve this kind of descent ... you can only conclude that there could have been deliberate action of some sort. It was not an accident,' said Maurie Baston, a former aerobatic-display pilot and flying instructor with the Royal Australian Air Force. Mr Baston was testifying on the fifth day of a lawsuit taken by the families of six victims who were killed when the plane plunged into an Indonesian river on December 19, 1997, while on a flight from Jakarta to Singapore. In an affidavit to the court, Mr Baston said there was 'more than sufficient available technical evidence to support the view that the aircraft was literally driven into the ground.' He said that he agreed with the findings of simulator tests that the 'probable cause of the crash was intentional pilot action.' But, defence counsel Lok Vi Ming questioned the accuracy of the simulator tests, saying that there was a doubt as to the exact point when the plane actually began its steep dive. Citing testimony given in a US court, in a suit by relatives of victims of flight MI185 against the plane's maker Boeing, Mr Lok said that there appeared to be two sets of radar data -- 'raw data' and 'refined data' -- on the aircraft's final moments. He said two of the simulator tests were carried out months before any data on the point of rapid descent was released. Two other tests were based on 'refined data', which was different from the unreleased raw data, he added. But he did not elaborate on why there were two sets of data. -- AFP

7 July 2001
'Flawed' decision on earlier occasion
An expert says Captain Tsu was wrong to take off in an overweight plane, in an earlier incident in November 1997
By Karen Wong

By taking off when one of the plane's engines did not have sufficient thrust, Captain Tsu had made a "wrong" decision. He should have reported the incident, said Captain Baston (above), an expert witness for the families of six people killed in the SilkAir crash. -- WANG HUI FEN
CAPTAIN Tsu Way Ming's decision to take off on an occasion when there was insufficient power in one of the engines was 'operationally flawed', an aviation management expert told the High Court yesterday.
Captain Maurie Baston said that on Nov 20, 1997, just a month before SilkAir MI 185 crashed in Palembang, Indonesia, Capt Tsu was piloting a flight from Singapore to Kunming, China.
But he turned the plane around shortly after taking off, to land back in Singapore. The aircraft was overweight.
Capt Baston said Capt Tsu should not have made the decision to take off that day, when one of the engines did not have sufficient thrust.
Capt Tsu failed to either record the overweight landing in the technical log or to report the incident.
The reason he gave to the company for not doing so was that the landing had been smooth.
He was later sent a letter to 'be more mindful' of not making a report.
Capt Baston, an expert witness for the families of six people killed in the crash, said the pilot's failure to report the incident was wrong. The plane could have been 'unairworthy', he added.
The reason for the insufficient thrust was later found to be a leak in the second engine's fuel pump.
'It's a significant unserviceability,' said Capt Baston.
However, he also said that regarding the subsequent overweight landing, Capt Tsu was placed 'in an awkward position', as there was no fuel-dump facility in the Boeing 737 model.
Senior Counsel Michael Khoo, acting for the families who are suing SilkAir for damages, then pointed out that SilkAir had lodged a report about the take-off incident to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore only about four months later.p> When SilkAir's lawyer Lok Vi Ming cross-examined Capt Baston, he raised the issue that there were two sets of radar data: A set of raw data, and another set of 'refined' data.
Both were used by the Indonesian National Transport Safety Committee (NTSC) in its report on the crash which killed all 104 people on board.
Capt Baston had relied on the refined radar data in the NTSC's report, when he said the dive angle was steep and that angle had been achieved when the aircraft was deliberately held into the dive by pilot action.
Mr Lok pointed out that the fact that there were two different sets of radar points raised questions.
However, Mr Khoo argued that there had been no earlier dispute about the two sets of radar information in the NTSC's
Later, Justice Tan Lee Meng asked Capt Baston whether pilots were trained to take control of the aircraft if the other pilot wanted to crash the plane. The captain replied that they were
The judge asked the lawyers on both sides to submit a list on what actions a co-pilot could take to overcome the pilot.
He then wanted a physical comparison between Capt Tsu and his co-pilot, First Officer Duncan Ward, to find out who could have won if they had to wrestle for control over the diving plane.
The hearing continues on Monday.

Latest News - Singapore
07 July 09:16PM -- Singapore Time
SilkAir insurers sue for US$55m By Karen Wong SINGAPORE -- SILKAIR'S insurers are suing Boeing and other aircraft-part manufacturers in the United States for supplying a 'defective' and 'dangerous' aircraft which crashed in 1997, killing all 104 people on board. The insurance company, Singapore Aviation and General Insurance Company (Sagi) -- a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Airlines -- is suing the defendants for negligence and breach of warranties. And it wants Boeing and the other companies to pay it US$35 million (S$64 million) for the loss of the aircraft hull alone. In a separate suit against the same defendants, filed in Los Angeles, California, Sagi is claiming the compensation money paid to the relatives of crash victims. Taken together, the claims in the two lawsuits total to almost US$55 million (S$100 million).

I wonder if my neighbour sue me for my pet dog had bitten them, can I also sue the petshop for selling me a dog that bites???
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Old 9th Jul 2001, 20:59
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He (the Judge)then wanted a physical comparison between Capt Tsu and his co-pilot, First Officer Duncan Ward, to find out who could have won if they had to wrestle for control over the diving plane.
How can the Judge assume that both pilots were in the cockpit at top of descent?
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Old 10th Jul 2001, 01:11
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The judge will try anything to suggest that both pilots were in the cockpit during the descent. IF (BIG IF)they were, then why no distress call? Is this trial just another extension of Diran's work of fiction?null
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Old 10th Jul 2001, 05:31
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10 July 2001, TUE
Expert says pilot cut voice recorders
Australian expert in SilkAir trial says flight recorders were not faulty and pilot could have pulled out of dive

By Tan Ooi Boon

AN AVIATION expert yesterday said that both the voice and flight-data recorders of the ill-fated SilkAir MI 185 were not faulty, but had been switched off by the pilot.

Mr Job is critical of the Indonesian report. He is pictured with senior counsel Michael Khoo (right). -- WANG HUIFEN
Mr Macarthur Job, an Australian flight safety consultant, said it was not possible for both recorders to simply stop working within six minutes of each other.

Because both devices were powered by the same electrical components, he ruled out power failure, because this would have resulted in both machines stopping simultaneously.

While the Indonesian crash investigators suggested the stoppages could be due to 'broken wires', he said the probability of this affecting only the two recorders was 'so highly improbable that it could not be considered a realistic possibility'.

Instead, he said, the stoppages could be explained by someone pulling the circuit breakers for both recorders manually.

The opinion of the expert - the third to be called by the five crash-victim families who are suing SilkAir - echoed the finding of the United States' National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

It concluded that MI 185 crashed in Palembang on Dec 19, 1997, as a result of 'intentional pilot action'.

Mr Job, who has reviewed about 3,000 air crashes around the world, noted that the NTSB had been very critical of the report by the Indonesian investigators from the National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC).

'It is as though the NTSC determined, despite the outcome of an impartial, expert technical investigation, to produce a report that refused to draw an obvious conclusion,' he said in his written statement to the court.

He noted that the final minutes of the voice recording showed sounds of seat movement and the removal of a seat belt.

Agreeing with the US experts, he said the sequence was consistent with MI 185 plane captain Tsu Way Ming preparing to leave the cockpit.

Noting that a panel directly behind the captain's seat contained the circuit breakers for both recorders, he said that it was evident that Capt Tsu would have been in the best position to stop the recorders manually.

Mr Job said there was other evidence in the NTSB report which pointed to a deliberate crash.

He noted that Capt Tsu, a former aerobatic pilot in the Singapore air force's Black Knights, did not make any attempt to recover from the steep dive the plane took from 35,000 feet that ended in the crash, even though it was possible and he had ample time to do so.

The Indonesians had implied that the crash could have been caused by the flight crew's failure to recover from an 'unexpected unusual flight upset'.

But Mr Job agreed with the NTSB that such a conclusion was not supported by evidence. The trial continues.

Call to view cockpit

ONE of the lawyers in the SilkAir hearing in the High Court yesterday suggested that the presiding judge get into a Boeing 737 cockpit.

Senior Counsel Michael Khoo made that proposal so that Justice Tan Lee Meng could find out, first hand, what might have happened in the cockpit as the plane was spiralling down.

'A picture speaks a thousand words,' he said.

Mr Khoo, who is representing the families of six people who died in the 1997 crash, then asked if SilkAir could arrange for this.

The airline's lawyer, Mr Lok Vi Ming, said that his client would like to help, but could not, as SilkAir no longer had any Boeing 737 aircraft in its fleet.

It also did not have any access to a Boeing 737 flight simulator in Singapore, he said.

He added that perhaps Mr Khoo could arrange for the group to use the cockpit of a Boeing 737 belonging to another carrier.

After the exchange, Justice Tan said only that he would continue to hear the evidence.

Judge raps probe teams for 'alarming gaps'

By Karen Wong

THE High Court judge hearing the SilkAir crash testimony yesterday criticised both the Indonesian-led crash probe team and the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for crucial gaps in their reports.

Justice Tan Lee Meng noted that both teams had failed to explain why the falling SilkAir plane lost radar contact after descending below 19,500 feet above sea level.

'Notwithstanding three years of investigations, nobody came up with an answer. Is this not alarming?' he asked.

Mr Macarthur Job, the plaintiffs' third expert witness, agreed that it was.

'The report did not even cover what I thought was relevant about the pilot,' the judge continued, referring to Captain Tsu Way Ming. 'Now we find out that important matters such as the missing radar sweep had not been covered. What else has not been covered?' he asked.

Last week, Justice Tan asked two of the expert witnesses for the plaintiffs, Captains John Laming and Maurie Baston, what a co-pilot could do if the pilot wanted to crash the plane.

The experts replied that it depended on who won the fight for control of the plane.

He then asked for a physical comparison of the two pilots. He was told yesterday that Captain Tsu was 1.75 m and weighed 79 kg, while First Officer Duncan Ward was 1.77 m and 73 kg.

Regarding the missing radar signals, the court heard how the airport's radar device makes a sweep every eight seconds.

In the case of SilkAir MI 185, it detected a signal at 35,000 feet and then a final signal 32 seconds later when the plane was at 19,500 feet, shortly before it plunged into the Musi River, near Palembang, Indonesia.

The fact that the radar failed when the plane dropped below 19,500 feet could have indicated that the plane's two transponders had stopped working.

The plaintiffs say the plane had either broken up or that the wires had been made faulty due to the rapid descent.

But the airline contends that there may have been a progressive electrical failure, which could also explain why the cockpit voice and flight data recorders stopped working six minutes apart from each other. Justice Tan then asked Mr Job why the issue of the missing radar signals had not been raised by the two previous expert witnesses, as well as the Indonesian National Transport Safety Committee (NTSC) and the NTSB.

'We've spent so much time on the issue of the radar sweep that escaped the attention of the NTSC and NTSB,' said the judge, expressing his concern. 'And here we are finding out new facts.'
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Old 10th Jul 2001, 07:00
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It is all beginning to make perfect sense !!!! or is it ???!!!

Let the truth be known...
Old 10th Jul 2001, 07:20
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Whether you question the integrity and final outcome of this trial in Singapore.. I would just like to note that the Judge has said at least one thing correct.. namely his comments about investigative bodies involved " leaving alarming gaps "....

The families have been saying this from day one after the crash... and we have been referring to all investigative agencies, associations,governments and companies involved..

Unfortunately, no one has been listening to us and seriously listening.. I personally think there is more to this entire incident than meets the eye..

I suspect a cover up of the greatest magnitude....and I am not referring to something as obvious as "The Pilot did it"...
Old 10th Jul 2001, 08:29
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Can someone PLEASE advise the judge that the ONLY reason radar plots were lost below 19,500' was that the aircraft went below Singapore radar's range. That is a basic scientific fact which he should understand.
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Old 10th Jul 2001, 10:32
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Regarding the hypothetical scenario the judge raised about two pilots fighting over the controls and who would win. Although I think there are few of us who have been following the MI185 saga here for the last three and half years, who for one moment would consider that this could have happened. I am surprised that the expert witnesses didn’t refer to the Egypt Air report. It’s quite well documented that it is more than a trial of strength, and it would be impossible for one pilot to restore the aircraft to normal flight if the other didn’t want him to.

Also, does this court consists of just one judge and no jury?
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Old 10th Jul 2001, 13:10
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Its reported in the papers that Silk air is sueing Boeing for that crash?????
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Old 10th Jul 2001, 20:04
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Thumbs down

Delta4.... that would not surprise me as SilkAir desparately attempt to shift the blame or attention in whatever way they can. The fact that no REAL decisive conclusions have been made in spite of all the overwhelming evidence in favour of some kind of intervention, is no surprise. It seems that Capt Tsu is undoubtedly benefitting from being "innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt..." It's a shame that MI and SQ management don't maintain this moral stance as strongly for the rest of us who survive far less significant incidents in the course of work!!!! Looks like you have to REALLY embarrass SIA before they stand up for you.

[ 10 July 2001: Message edited by: In the slot ]
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Old 10th Jul 2001, 20:38
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My guess is that the outcome or ruling will be...The Plaintiff has not been able to prove without reasonable doubt that the Pilot Did It..
Is that the standard that will be used? Here in the states reasonable doubt is used in criminal cases, but civil cases are only preponderance of evidence. Anyone here an expert on Singaporean law?
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Old 11th Jul 2001, 04:16
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Not sure what is required with regards "beyond reasonable doubt" or burden of proof in Singapore..

Whatever the law or requirements to prove the case,based on reports I have read and been briefed on, the plaintiffs have struggled to adequately prove that the Pilot Did it or whom was in the cockpit at the time.. This has been further confused by the differing Radar Plots issue...

Lets wait to see what the Airlines expert witnesses have to say...That should be interesting and will obviously differ from the expert witnesses statements so far who spoke on behalf of the plaintiffs...

At least the media are reporting on the case in Singapore...and elsewhere...Lets keep the subject alive...

Let the truth be known..
Old 11th Jul 2001, 05:40
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Yes you are correct. One Judge (Outcome of a trial is usually decided by the old man, Lee Con You, himself), no jury.

The former Attorney General of Singapore disagreed with the old man's system. He is now a fugitive in the United States.
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Old 11th Jul 2001, 06:31
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July 11, 2001 (Straits Times)
US experts erred before, says SilkAir
NTSB's report that MI 185 crash was caused by pilot action is based on insufficient evidence, says lawyer

By Tan Ooi Boon

THE lawyer for SilkAir yesterday attacked the report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on the Palembang crash, saying that the American experts had been known to make 'outrightly wrong' conclusions in the past.

Lawyer Lok Vi Ming said the NTSB's finding that the MI 185 crash was caused by 'intentional pilot action' was flawed as it was based on insufficient evidence.

He noted that after the crash on Dec 19, 1997, the recovery team only managed to find parts totalling 73 per cent of the ill-fated Boeing 737 plane.

The piece of wreckage which could shed light on the probable cause could still be embedded at the bottom of the Musi River, the site of the crash in Indonesia, he said.

The lawyer made these points yesterday when he questioned the expert opinion of air-safety consultant Macarthur Job, who was called by the victims' families to support their case.

Mr Job had shared the NTSB's view that Flight Captain Tsu Way Ming could have brought the plane down. But Mr Lok said the NTSB's findings were not always correct.

For example, in its probe into an accident involving a United Airlines Boeing 747 jumbo jet in Honolulu in 1991, the NTSB had concluded that the incident was caused by the sudden opening of an improperly-latched cargo door. p> But when the US Navy later dredged the seabed and retrieved the cargo door, it was found to be properly latched.

Similarly, Mr Lok said the NTSB had dismissed rudder malfunction as the possible cause of two Boeing 737 crashes in the US, in 1991 and 1994. But tests by Boeing later showed that faulty rudders could have caused those accidents.

Given such mistakes, Mr Lok then asked Mr Job how he could be so certain NTSB was correct in suggesting that Capt Tsu had brought the plane down.

He asked the witness: 'You have come to court to cast aspersions on him... What would you say to the family of the man?'

But the plaintiffs' lawyer, Senior Counsel Michael Khoo, objected: 'Mr Job cannot answer that. He is an expert on investigations, not an expert on emotions.'

Earlier, Mr Khoo asked the presiding judge, Justice Tan Lee Meng, whether he would want to visit a cockpit of a Boeing 737 as part of the hearing.

As SilkAir and Singapore Airlines no longer used such planes, he said he could ask Malaysia Airlines for permission for such a visit.

Justice Tan replied that there was no need to do so as the court hearings here would be sufficient. The case continues today.

Pilot suicide? 'Captain had no reason'

PARTIES in the SilkAir case yesterday treaded into the 'realm of the unknown' as both sides argued about the possible events that could have taken place in the final minutes of Flight MI 185.

SilkAir lawyer Lok Vi Ming took the families' expert, Mr Macarthur Job, to task for implying that Captain Tsu Way Ming had deliberately crashed the plane on Dec 19, 1997.

Such a contention, he said, would fly in the face of an extensive probe by the Singapore police which found that neither Capt Tsu nor his co-pilot Duncan Ward had any reason to commit suicide.

The police probe, released in December, found that Capt Tsu did not show any unusual behaviour prior to the Palembang crash.

Instead, the police said he had made plans for when he returned, such as helping his son with his studies and holding a birthday party for his father.

Mr Job maintained that there was manual input from the cockpit which caused the plane to crash, but refused to comment on the police findings.

'All I can say is that the plane was driven to the ground but I don't know by who,' he said.

This prompted Justice Tan Lee Meng to say: 'The pilot could not be doing all these daredevil exercises in the sky. You are saying that he knew that by driving the plane down, he would be committing suicide.

'Not only that, he was a mass-murderer.'

Mr Job said: 'If this is the inference, yes.'

Yesterday, the court also heard that after the plane plunged from 35,000 feet to 19,500 feet, it disappeared from airport radar screens.

No one can conclusively say what happened after that. Mr Job suggested that the plane could have broken up then as it was nose- diving at a great speed.

He later agreed with Justice Tan that this was just a possibility, noting that neither the Indonesian nor American investigators discussed this in their reports.

July 11, 2001 (Business Time)
'Someone' caused plane to crash: witness

Aviation expert agrees that person at controls wanted to commit suicide

Beth Jinks

(SINGAPORE) An expert witness testifying in the High Court on behalf of plaintiffs in the SilkAir crash case conceded yesterday that he believed 'someone' aboard the ill-fated aircraft deliberately caused it to crash.

Scolded by Justice Tan Lee Meng for skirting around the issue, Australian aviation expert Macarthur Job reluctantly revealed that in his opinion, the only explanation for the incident involved someone knowingly steering the plane into the ground, killing himself and all 103 others on board. Flight MI 185 crashed on Dec 19, 1997 while returning to Singapore from Jakarta.

Mr Job would not speculate whether that person was one of the crew, and could not be drawn on the motives for the act, insisting it was beyond his expertise. He confidently repeated his earlier testimony that all evidence showed the plane's engines were working, its recorders had been manually switched off and it was manually steered towards the ground at high - possibly accelerating - speed.

Mr Job's latest testimony came after Justice Tan seized the cross-examination from defence counsel acting for Singapore Airlines' subsidiary SilkAir.

Justice Tan urged Mr Job to voice his conclusions.

'You want to avoid saying that the pilot killed himself - you want to stay away from this conclusion, but when you say the plane was literally driven into the ground ... that descent was quick and steep - you have suggested the remaining part of the dive down was even faster ... you cannot avoid concluding that the man was trying to kill himself or trying daredevil exercises in the sky,' Justice Tan said.

Mr Job answered: 'The aeroplane was driven into the ground - by whom we don't know.'

During a lengthy exchange, Justice Tan said: 'You experts would be more convincing if you were prepared to bite the bullet.' Ultimately Mr Job agreed that, in the judge's words, 'in your opinion the person manipulating the controls wanted to commit suicide and instantly in the process became a mass murderer ... who must have known he would die'.

Justice Tan also questioned whether Mr Job's testimony - that all evidence showed someone manually turned off the aircraft's recorders before the crash - meant he had concluded this was done to 'hide' what subsequently happened in the cockpit. Mr Job refused to be drawn on this conclusion, again arguing it was beyond his expertise.

He also admitted to defence counsel Lok Vi Ming he had not read a report on the Singapore police investigation into allegations of pilot suicide.

The report, read out in court by Mr Lok, included details of comprehensive police investigations into the financial, personal and psychological positions of all crew, concluding suicide was unlikely.

Mr Job said while the report was 'relevant for me to consider' it 'would have to be considered in conjunction with all the other evidence of the aircraft crash investigation', which he maintained pointed to a series of deliberate acts.

During re-examination, Mr Job said changes to investigation conclusions after new evidence was uncovered in two accident cases involving similar aircraft had not significantly altered the cause findings.

Defence lawyers focused on the cases earlier in the proceedings.

Justice Tan also dismissed as unnecessary an earlier suggestion by plaintiff lawyer Michael Khoo that he travel in the cockpit of a 737 to better understand the technical evidence.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs will resume redirection of Mr Job this morning.

10 July 2001 (TODAY-Mediacorp Press)
2301 hrs (SST)

SilkAir crash defined as suicide attempt under law
by Dominique Loh

Justice Tan Lee Meng gave his view on the legal definition of suicide on day 7 of the SilkAir lawsuit.

Questions were also raised on the finality of the US National Transportation Safety Board's report on the crash.

The plaintiffs, led by Michael Khoo, had begun their lawsuit by saying it was not their intention to prove the crash was an attempt by the pilot to commit suicide.

But on day 7 of the hearing, attention was again focused on probable deliberate action in downing the plane.

Expert witness John Laming testified last week that the pilot would know he's killing himself by delibrately nose diving the plane.

Macarthur Job also testified before the court on the same fact.

Justice Tan Lee Meng said that if the pilot knew his action would kill himself by the definition of the law, if the act was successful, it was a suicide attempt.

Part of the defence's cross examination of Macarthur Job focused on the validity of the US NTSB's findings.

Defence lawyer Lok Vi Ming questioned the witness about NTSB's other investigations in the US.

He cited three instances where the NTSB changed its findings after further evidence showed their initial conclusions were somewhat flawed.

Lawyer Lok referred to accidents that took place at Honolulu, Colorado Springs and Pittsburg.

He asked since the NTSB amended its findings in those cases, would it then be possible the same could happen in MI 185's case.

Job answered there may be a possibility but said his findings are based on current evidence before him.

The trial continues on Wednesday when the defendants are expected to start their opening statement.

[ 11 July 2001: Message edited by: Loner ]
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Old 12th Jul 2001, 05:26
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MediaCorp News (TODAY)
11 July 2001 1203 hrs (GMT) 2003 hrs (SST)SilkAir lawyers start defence in lawsuit by Dominique Loh

After eight days of hearings, the lawyers for SilkAir have given their opening statement.Defence lawyer Lok Vi Ming presented their case by saying the findings of Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee must be upheld.Mr Lok said there was no evidence to prove there was an attempted suicide by the flight crew.He also said there was a lack of motive by any of the cabin crew to commit suicide.The defence again asserted that the "thoroughness of the National Transportation Safety Board in this case is suspect."It cited previous investigations in which the American agency had amended its conclusions of aviation accidents in the US, after further evidence surfaced.Before the defence began its case, expert witness Maurie Baston was again called to the stand.Mr Baston testified it would be very difficult for a flight crew member to wrestle the controls from the pilot once the plane goes into a nose dive that is unrecoverable.This is because the physical forces acting on the control column would be too great.The first defence witness will testify on Thursday.

12 JULY 2001, THUR (Straits Times)
Could the co-pilot have averted tragedy?

PILOTS are known to fall asleep on long flights made in clear weather, said aviation expert Maurie Baston.
He was asked yesterday whether a co-pilot could do anything if the pilot decided to do something 'wrong', such as sending the plane into a nose dive.
From his own experience as a pilot, he said, most co-pilots would feel 'relaxed' when they were flying with competent pilots.
'They would not be sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting for things to happen.'
But he noted that if the pilot had wanted to crash-dive a plane intentionally, the co-pilot might not have time to do anything.
'It would be a game of wrestling for control,' he said, adding that even this would not help if the plane went out of control at great speed.
Yesterday, SilkAir lawyer Lok Vi Ming asked Captain Baston what he would do if he were flying alongside MI 185 pilot Tsu Way Ming.
He replied that if he had known about reports that the pilot had performed dangerous moves in earlier flights, he 'would be keeping an eye on Capt Tsu'.

Malicious to suggest suicide, says SilkAir
Airline's lawyer says it is malicious and irresponsible to say without proof that pilot took down plane deliberately
By Tan Ooi Boon
IT WAS 'malicious and highly irresponsible' to suggest that SilkAir MI 185 went down as a result of pilot suicide because a painstaking probe lasting three years had yielded no evidence to support this charge.
SilkAir's lawyer, Mr Lok Vi Ming, told the High Court yesterday that the actual cause of the air crash in Palembang in 1997 is still unknown as 27 per cent of the plane wreckage remains unrecovered.
So far, the Indonesian crash investigators have found nothing - either mechanical or human - that can help them to pinpoint the probable cause of the tragic incident.
A separate and independent probe by the Singapore police ruled out suicide as a possible motive for both Captain Tsu Way Ming and co-pilot Duncan Ward, Mr Lok said when he opened SilkAir's case yesterday.
Despite this, the lawyer said expert witnesses called by the five families of victims who are suing SilkAir, did not hesitate to say that the crash was caused by 'intentional pilot action'.
'They are actually saying that the plane was crashed deliberately, and that the pilot committed suicide and murder,' he added.
He said that such a position would not go well with the fact that the five families had filed separate suits in the United States against the manufacturers of the Boeing 737 and other parts of the aircraft.
This, he added, can be taken as an admission of their belief that the crash could have been caused by mechanical or other non-human reasons.
For example, he noted that the plaintiffs' experts said the pilot had allegedly stopped the plane's voice and flight-data recorders manually by pulling their circuit-breakers, one after the other. But stoppages, he said, could also be explained by the possibility that a 'progressive power failure' affected the plane.
He added his experts would support this theory when they give evidence today, because power supply to the plane's radar transponder was also cut off.
It had stopped sending out radar signals after the plane plunged to below 19,500 feet, from its cruising altitude of 35,000 feet.
'The trial is a sad reminder of the dark and tragic day when MI 185 went down with 104 lives... but we should not forget that this number included the pilot,' he said.
He also said that in the search for answers, it might be too easy and convenient to subscribe to the theory that a troubled pilot took matters into his own hands by sending himself and others on board to their deaths.
'Such a theory is dangerous, is without any merit and should be rejected by this court,' he said.

Reckless pilot action to counter emergency?
Plaintiffs' lawyer paints scenario in which the jet crash could have been caused unintentionally after judge asks him to clarify his case
By Alethea Lim

THE pilot of MI 185 could have pulled an unapproved and dangerous manoeuvre to counter an emergency during the flight, said Senior Counsel Michael Khoo.
As a result of his recklessness, the plane nose-dived, went out of control and crashed.
The lawyer, who is representing five crash-victim families who are suing SilkAir, painted this scenario to emphasise that the plaintiffs are not out to show that the pilot, Captain Tsu Way Ming, committed suicide.
He did so after presiding judge, Justice Tan Lee Meng, asked him to clarify his case.
The judge had earlier pointed out to him that his expert witnesses had been saying that the pilot had intentionally brought the plane down. Despite this, the witnesses had been 'shrinking away from the inevitable conclusion' and refused to commit themselves to say that the pilot had committed suicide.
For example, when the judge asked air-safety consultant Macarthur Job, the plaintiffs' expert witness, if he would consider it a reckless act if a person drove his car into a bus stop filled with 100 people, knowing that the act would kill himself and the people, Mr Job answered that he would.
The judge then asked if the expert witness was saying that the plane had been taken on an aerobatic dive and was being brought down deliberately.
Mr Job replied that according to the US National Transportation Safety Board, this was so.
Mr Khoo then intervened saying that there were two possibilities as to what happened on MI 185 when it crashed in Palembang in December 1997 - one was that the pilot had been reckless and could not recover from his act, and the other was that his action was intentional.
For instance, the pilot's recklessness could have happened when he put the plane on full throttle, causing it to nose-dive when the pressure in the cabin dropped instead of stabilising it.
But Mr Khoo reiterated that it was not the plaintiffs' case to show the motive behind such an act: 'We are not here to say why a man acted in such a way.'
Justice Tan replied: ''But we are here to find out whether a man had acted in such a way. Your side wants to avoid saying that the pilot wants to kill himself.'
To which Mr Khoo replied: 'No one can ever say what was in the mind of the doer... All we want to show is the plane was driven to the ground intentionally.'
He added that he was not saying that the crash was not caused by pilot suicide.
'All I am saying is that it is not necessary for the court to make a finding of suicide,' he said, noting that a finding that someone had caused the plane to dive would be enough for the families to succeed in their claim.

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Old 12th Jul 2001, 05:54
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Defence lawyer Lok Vi Ming presented their case by saying the findings of Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee must be upheld
Yeah right .... then why is Silk Air insurers suing Boeing? It appears that Silk Air (and associated companies) have little confidence in the NTSC findings too! What a farce!
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Old 12th Jul 2001, 09:25
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WSSS.... it may seem like a farce...you are probably correct...but what is going on in Singapore Courts right now is at least keeping the topic alive...

As you may know, I lost my wife and child on SilkAir 185, I know each and every other family who also lost someone dear to them on that flight..

What is going on right now is at least creating awareness that there are still so many unknowns about what really happened on 19th December 1997.. What the families involved would like is at least to get closer to knowing what happened..

The trial in Singapore is all about what probably may have happened or not...depending on whether you believe the plaintiffs lawyer or SilkAir lawyer..and their respective "experts"...

The families biggest cause of complaint or concern is...Why was the investigation finished or stopped without all the answers being known or at least more questions answered..

I guess if the remaining 30% +/- of the wreckage had been recovered, we might be closer to knowing...

It all comes down to probabilities...

Unfortunately, I am not sure the plaintiffs are going to get everything they want out of this trial..and so then on to USA legal system...maybe that will reveal more...

Sad...very sad indeed that it come down to this whole exercise going on in the courts.. All the families want is some respect and something nearer to the truth of what actually happened..
Old 12th Jul 2001, 09:48
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July 12, 2001 (The Business Times)
Not easy to overpower pilot intent on suicide

Expert witness details factors involved in regaining control of aircraft

By Donald Urquhart

CONFUSION, negative gravity, flying debris, and a cacophony of audio and visual alarms would make overpowering a suicidal pilot difficult, an expert witness testified yesterday on the seventh day of the SilkAir High Court trial.

The first thought running through a co-pilot's head would be that there was something wrong with the aircraft, said Australian aviation expert Maurice Baston, testifying for the plaintiffs in the case against SilkAir.

Capt Baston had previously been asked by Justice Tan Lee Meng to detail the factors involved in regaining control of an aircraft following a deliberate flight path deviation by one of two pilots.

Central to testimony given by the plaintiffs' expert witnesses has been the argument that the doomed Boeing 737 of flight MI 185 had been deliberately held into a nosedive by one of the pilots.

Key evidence, they said, pointed to the plane's stabiliser trim, which was pushed into the full forward position, rapidly causing the aircraft to nosedive from its cruising altitude of 35,000 to 19,500 feet - the last position recorded by radar - in 8 seconds.

'The non-handling pilot, not the wrong-doer, would be extremely surprised as to the immediate cause of the exceedance,' said Capt Baston.

'The non-handling pilot would become extremely confused and the cockpit would have dust, dirt, flight plans, drink cups, large bulky manuals displaced in the air.'

He said the non-handling pilot would not expect the manoeuvre to have been intentionally conducted, which would rob him of several vital seconds in which to respond.

During cross-examination, defence council Lok Vi Ming asked Capt Baston if, as a pilot with many people's lives in his hands, he would not be always thinking of possible emergency situations. In response, Capt Baston said this was not the case: 'My experience is that the norm is a passive flight deck.'

'The non-handling pilot, after several precious seconds would be faced with an impossible situation, finally realising the wrong-doer was intent on pushing the aircraft into a steep dive,' he said.

In such a situation the instinctive move would be for the non-handling pilot to attempt to use his own control wheel to stop the dive, and while partial control might be regained, Capt Baston said the powerful stabiliser trim could not be so easily regained.

Compounding the problems would be the very rapid rate of descent once the dive was initiated, he added. By approximately 32,000 feet the aircraft would have exceeded its normal flight envelope - or operating conditions - he said. And within another 8 to 10 seconds the flight test envelope - or maximum conditions under which the plane's control has been tested - would be exceeded.

At this point, no one knew how the aircraft would react, and eventually it would reach a 'certain point where no regaining of control is possible, no matter what is done'.

July 12, 2001 (The Business Times)
Must show pilot's suicidal intent and act: Silkair

SILKAIR began its defence yesterday in the negligence lawsuit brought by families of six victims of the MI 185 crash by saying the plaintiffs have to show that the pilot wanted to, and did in fact, commit suicide - and murder.

Only then will the plaintiffs succeed in meeting their burden of proof, said Lok Vi Ming, the counsel for Singapore Airlines' regional airline.

Mr Lok said there were too many unknowns, too little evidence and too many assumptions made by the US National Transportation Safety Board to conclude that the pilot purposely crashed the plane killing all 104 people aboard.

At the High Court hearing, he said the findings of Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee were correct in concluding that there was insufficient evidence to identify the probable cause of the accident.

Counsel for the plaintiffs, Michael Khoo, had highlighted that it was not necessary to establish the suicide issue because the plaintiffs' contention is that whatever actions were taken in the cockpit were reckless actions, be they related to a suicide bid or an attempt to recover from some form of emergency.
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Old 12th Jul 2001, 20:08
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I think Crockett is right. If the truth was left in those 27% wreckage in Musi River, it's time to dig them out......
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Old 13th Jul 2001, 01:05
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The remaining 27% will yield nothing of value. Those who claim it will are allowing themselves to be affected by smokescreens. This crash was caused by deliberate action. Pilots fighting over control of the aircraft is not a consideration because the most likely scenario was for one pilot to be absent from the cockpit. It's just a shame that Singapore will not publicly acknowledge what the rest of the real world already has determined. Remember "most likely cause?" The NTSB remain a far more trustworthy authority than, it would appear, even a country's legal system.
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