In Indonesia, a passenger plane crashed into the sea this night. It is a device of price fighter Lion Air that was traveling from capital Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang on the island of Bangka. According to the Indonesian Ministry of Transport, 189 people were on board the aircraft. There is no sign of survivors, the Indonesian rescue services report after an hour-long search. The cause of the crash is not yet known.
Wrecked pieces of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 are located at about 70 kilometres from the Indonesian capital. A rescue team has been sent to the disaster site to provide assistance and the first bodies have been found. “We have discovered life jackets, telephones and parts of the aircraft,” said the spokesman of the rescue service. The wreck is estimated at a depth of about 35 meters.
The crashed plane is a Boeing type 737 MAX 8, which can accommodate more than 150 people. Among the occupants were seven crew members and 182 passengers, including three children. Nothing is known about their condition, but the hope of finding survivors is as good as non-existent.
Unknown technical problem
The plane would have disappeared from the radar thirteen minutes after taking off in Jakarta. The rescue services say that flight JT-610 was last located at Karawang in the province of West Java. There, the radio contact with the aircraft would also be broken.
According to the CEO of the airline, Edward Sirait, the pilot asked to be able to return to the airport due to an unknown technical problem. “Our pilot worked according to the procedure and when he saw a problem, he asked to return to the base. But we know how it’s done,” says Sirait. The aircraft crashed during a flight to Pangkal Pinang on the island of Bangka, near Sumatra. The destination is a popular place for tourists.
The national government agency responsible for aviation safety says that the aircraft was only in use for two years. However, the aircraft would also have had a technical problem during a previous flight. “The plane flew from Denpasar in Bali to Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta. A report has been drawn up on a technical issue and has been resolved according to the procedures”, says Sirait, without going into the nature of the defect.
Sirait also says that Lion Air has 11 Boeing type 737 MAX 8 aircraft and that the other aircraft did not have the same technical problem. There are no plans to keep the rest of the fleet on the ground.
Lion Air was founded in 1999. The price fighter, who uses modern aircraft from Boeing and Airbus, has grown strongly in recent years and mainly flies within Indonesia. Lion Air is now even the largest private airline in the country. The company was recently blacklisted by the European Commission. The fleet consists of 112 aircraft. The pilot and co-pilot had together made 11,000 flight hours.
In 2013, a Lion Air aircraft crashed during the landing on Bali: even though the plane broke into pieces, all 110 passengers survived the crash.