The cause of Lion Air JT 610 crash yesterday remains unknown as search and rescue operations continue around Tanjung Pakis, Kerawang, West Java.
The ill-fated Boeing 737 Max 8 plane lost contact 13 minutes after take-off yesterday morning from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. It was bound for Pangkal Pinang, Bangka Island, carrying 189 people. All passengers are feared dead.
Apart from the plane’s captain Bhavye Harvino, an Indian passport holder, all passengers on board were Indonesians, more than 20 of whom were government officials returning to their posts in Pangkal Pinang after spending the weekend with families in Jakarta.
Search and rescue teams are currently working round the clock to locate the exact location of the wreck, and the search for the black box is also underway.
Technical issues were earlier reported for the plane during its Denpasar-Jakarta service on Sunday evening. However, Edward Sirait, CEO of Lion Air told the media that the airline’s engineers had fixed the problem and the flight was cleared to fly and landed safely in Jakarta.
Edward added that the plane was airworthy and pilot had taken all pre-flight inspections according to procedures.
Lion Air has just acquired the Boeing 737 Max 8 in August and has operated eight of 11 it has on order. The aircraft had only 800 hours of flight time recorded.
According to Reuters, this Lion Air accident was the first reported involving a MAX aircraft. Boeing has also issued a statement on its website that it was providing technical assistance at the request of the Indonesian authorities.
The accident may tarnish the image of the Indonesian airline safety, after ICAO awarded the Indonesia Ministry of Transportation the Council President Certificate, an award related to improvement on flight safety.
Earlier this year, the EU removed all Indonesian carriers from its air safety blacklist following improvements in their air safety.