According to airport authorities, the plane, Lion Air Flight JT610 took off around 6:20 am and lost contact with the air-traffic controller at 6:33 am, 13 minutes after taking off.
On Monday, a Lion Air passenger flight from Jakarta to the city of Pangkal Pinang off the island of Sumatra crashed into the sea, according to Indonesia’s search and rescue agency. Yusuf Latif, a spokesman of the agency confirmed this devastating incident. However, it was not clear how many were on board and if any passenger has survived the crash.
The flight JT610 took off at 6:20 am and was due to land in the capital of the Bangka-Belitung tin mining hub and an hour ahead of the flight. The Boeing 737 lost contact with the air-traffic controller at 6:33 am, 13 minutes after takeoff according to the airport authorities.
Passengers feared dead
“We don’t know yet whether there are any survivors,” agency head Muhammad Syaugi said at a news conference, adding that no distress signal had been received from the aircraft’s emergency transmitter. “We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm.”
After some time, reports came in and he said that items such as smartphones and life vests in water about 30 meters deep near the crash. This was where the Boeing 737 lost contact as identified by Flightradar 24.
“We are there already, our vessels, our helicopter is hovering above the waters, to assist,” Syaugi said. “We are trying to dive down to find the wreck.”
The cause of the crash is yet to be found as an official of Indonesia’s safety transport committee spoke to the press. They have to wait until the recovery of the plane’s black boxes. The cockpit voice recorder and data flight recorder however, are known.
“We will collect all data from the control tower,” said Soerjanto Tjahjono. “The plane is so modern, it transmits data from the plane and that we will review too. But the most important is the blackbox.”
“The plane had requested to return to base before finally disappearing from the radar,” according to Sindu Rahayu, directorate general of civil aviation at the Indonesian transport ministry.
“The aircraft was carrying 178 adult passengers, one child and two babies, with two pilots and five flight attendants.”
Lion Air’s safety record
According to BBC, Indonesia, a vast archipelago, is heavily reliant on air travel, but many of its airlines have a poor safety record. Lion Air is Indonesia’s largest low-cost carrier, operating flights domestically as well as a number of international routes in South East Asia, Australia and the Middle East. This Lion Air plane landed in the sea off Bali in 2013, but all passengers and crew survived Established in 1999, it has had issues of safety and poor management in the past and was banned from flying into European airspace until 2016.
In 2013, Lion Air flight 904 crashed into the sea on landing at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport. All 108 people on board survived. In 2004, flight 538 from Jakarta crashed and broke up on landing at Solo City, killing 25 people. In 2011 and 2012 there was a spate of incidents where pilots were found in possession of methamphetamines, in one incident hours before a flight.