Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The day before a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft plunged into the Java Sea, killing all 189 aboard, an off-duty pilot riding in the flight deck jumpseat of the same aircraft played a pivotal role in averting a similar crash, Bloomberg reports. On the flight that landed safely, the third pilot helped disable a malfunctioning flight-control system using an available checklist and saved the plane from crashing,

Details: The pilot disabled the plane's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) from forcing the aircraft's nose down toward the ground, according to sources familiar who spoke with Bloomberg. The report adds that according to the Indonesia safety committee report, the plane had "multiple failures on previous flights and hadn't been properly repaired." One of the failures, it is widely thought, was a malfunctioning angle of attack sensor that was feeding erroneous information to the software system.

Our thought bubble: Per Axios' Andrew Freedman: This story makes it more clear that Lion Air should not have flown the plane on the day of the crash without maintenance first, since a previous flight hit such a severe problem. It also shows that not all pilots in a flight deck would correctly diagnosed what the MCAS system was doing and how to shut it off. However, the presence of a third pilot in the flight deck is not unusual, as that routinely occurs when pilots are commuting and flights are full. However, it's extremely rare that an off duty pilot plays such a pivotal role in preventing an accident.

Go deeper: Transportation secretary asks for internal probe of Boeing certification

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Stocks close down more than 3%

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld via Getty Images

Stocks took a hit on Wednesday, with the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrials Average and Nasdaq dropping more than 3% across the board.

Why it matters: The volatility is a break from the stock market grinding higher in the face of spiking coronavirus cases, a stalling economy and gridlocked negotiations over an additional stimulus package.

Zeta, now a Category 2 Hurricane, closes in on Louisiana coast

The probable path of Zeta, per the National Hurricane Center. Photo: NHC/NOAA

Zeta strengthened on Wednesday afternoon, on track to make landfall along the southeastern coast of Louisiana by the afternoon as a "significant" Category 2 hurricane, per the National Hurricane Center.

The state of play: Zeta is producing 100-mph maximum sustained winds and stronger gusts. The storm is gaining strength as it heads northeastward at 20 mph. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) requested a pre-landfall Emergency Declaration in a letter to President Trump on Tuesday.