Lion Air flight JT610 crashes after takeoff from Jakarta

A Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8. Photo: © Bathara Sakti

Lion Air flight JT610 has crashed in the ocean 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta Airport on Monday at 6:20 am local time. It was scheduled to fly to Pangkal Pinang, a city on Bangka Island.

The flight was operated by PK-LQP, a brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8, delivered to Lion Air in August 2018. Today’s accident is the first ever crash of this aircraft type, which entered service in May 2017.

On board were 189 people, including 181 passengers  (two of them infants) and eight crew members (two pilots plus six flight attendants), officials say. The aircraft has a total capacity of 180 passengers, which means that the 737 MAX was completely booked out on the flight. Indonesia’s finance ministry says that 20 of its officials were on board the flight.

A search and rescue mission is ongoing, the transport ministry of Indonesia says debris and body parts have been found by rescuers, but they are still looking for the main wreckage. Photos shared on social media show belongings from the airplane’s passengers, indicating from the beginning that it was very unlikely for anyone on board to have survived.

A rescue diver reportedly died during the recovery mission.

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing released the following statement on flight JT610:

The Boeing Company is 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 stands ready to provide technical assistance to the accident investigation. In accordance with international protocol, all inquiries about aviation accident investigations must be directed to the Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC).Boeing

On Thursday, a ‘black box’ of the aircraft was recovered from underwater and is reported to be in a good condition. It is not clear whether it was the flight data recorder or the cockpit voice recorder, as both are being called black box.

The Indonesia Transportation Safety Committee is investigating. Data from Flightradar24 indicates that the aircraft made a very fast descent before losing radar contact and crashing into the water. Reuters reports that the aircraft requested an immediate return to Jakarta Airport. It also had technical issues with flight instruments on a previous flight, the CEO of the airline, Edward Sirait, confirmed. The two pilots had 6,000 and 5,000 flight hours respectively.

Playback of flight JT610. Screenshot: © Flightradar24

In reaction to the crash, Australia has banned its government officials and contractors from flying Lion Air, until the investigation shows what caused the accident. On Tuesday, Indonesia ordered an inspection of all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, Reuters reports quoting officials from the transport ministry.

On Tuesday, one week after the crash, Boeing issued a safety notice regarding possible problems with the AOA (Angle of Attack) display, to all operators of the 737 MAX.

Lion Air is a low-cost carrier from Indonesia and the largest privately owned airline in the country. Its Malaysian subsidiary was the first airline in the world to receive a Boeing 737 MAX 8. Before the crash, Lion Air Group was operating 13 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft (eleven MAX 8 and two MAX 9).

Read more: Lion Air flight JT610: What we know so far