Lion Air Plane Crashes, 189 Feared Dead

October 29, 2018

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A Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 with 189 people on board has crashed a few minutes after takeoff from Indonesia’s Jakarta Airport.

Flight JT610 was flying from the capital’s Soekarno–Hatta airport to Pangkal Pinang, a 60 minute flight, early Monday morning, when the two-month old 737 crashed into the ocean.

The pilot had requested a return to Jakarta shortly after takeoff but was unable to reach the airport and the aircraft came down in 35-metre (115 feet) deep water about 15 km (9 miles) off the coast of Java. Aviation officials said that it is unlikely there will be survivors.

Of the 189 onboard, there were 178 adult passengers, one child and two infants, plus two pilots and six cabin crew.

The pilots had a total of about 11,000 flight hours between them, the captain, Bhavye Suneja had 6,000 hours, and first officer Harvino 5,000 flight hours.

Lion Air’s chief executive Edward Sirait told a press conference that the crashed aircraft had reported a technical problem on its previous flight from Denpasar, Bali to Jakarta. The technical issue had been resolved overnight “according to procedure” he said.

The airline issued a brief press release at 11:22 local time saying “Lion Air regrets to inform that our Flight JT 610 from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang had crashed in Java ​Sea, Indonesia on Monday, 29 October 2018. The Aircraft had lost radar control with Indonesian ATC.”

Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 showed the flight’s erratic flightpath where it descended rapidly before gaining height and picking up speed. Contact was then lost about 13 minutes after takeoff.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of the country's disaster agency, tweeted images of aircraft debris.

Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency said that no distress signal had been received from the 737’s emergency transmitter, but it had a team of 40 divers and over 100 rescuers on site. The aircraft’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders were expected to be located soon and should provide information on the cause of the accident.

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 entered service with Lion Air in August. The airline has received 13 of the type from orders of 201. The low cost carrier said it has no plans to ground its other 737 MAX 8s.

A Boeing statement said it was “deeply saddened by the loss of flight JT 610. We express our concern for those on board, and extend heartfelt sympathies to their families and loved ones.”

Boeing said it stands ready to provide technical assistance to the accident investigation.