A Lion Air plane carrying 189 people crashed into the sea north of Jakarta, Indonesia Monday, Oct. 29, just minutes after take-off, killing everyone aboard.
The airplane crash occurred just after 6:30 a.m., just three minutes after taking off for the city of Pangkal Pinang on the island of Bangka, about 250 miles north of Jarkata. The Associated Press reported that one transportation official said the pilot of the Lion Air flight made a “return to base” request about two to three minutes after takeoff, but the aircraft plunged to the sea about 10 minutes later. The airplane reached a maximum altitude of 5,200 feet during its short flight.
Crews of police, soldiers, fishermen, and others are recovering debris and bodies from the Java Sea north of the Indonesian capital. Officials said that based on the condition of the remains recovered so far they don’t expect to find any survivors.
An investigation of the Lion Air plane crash has barely begun, but so far there are no signs of what could have gone wrong.
The aircraft was a brand-new Boeing 737 Max 8, which Lion Air had leased from a Chinese leasing company and put in service in mid-August. The pilot of the flight, a national of India, had more than 6,100 hours of flying experience. The co-pilot had more than 5,000 hours.
The weather was normal at the time of the crash, with no storms, strong winds, or visibility problems in the area.
According to the AP, Lion Air president-director Edward Sirait said the plane experienced a “technical problem” on its previous flight from Bali to Jakarta but it had been fully repaired. He was not able to provide specifics of the problem, the AP reported.
“Indeed there were reports about a technical problem, and the technical problem has been resolved in accordance with the procedures released by the plane manufacturer,” he said.
Boeing said that it is “deeply saddened” by the Lion Air crash and it will provide technical assistance to Indonesian authorities investigating the plane crash.
Lion Air is a Jakarta-based low-cost airline. It is Indonesia’s largest airline and the second largest low-cost airline in Southeast Asia after AirAsia. The airline offers mostly domestic routes.
The plane crash comes as Indonesian air carriers are re-establishing international routes after being banned for several years by the U.S. and European Union over safety concerns.