Vietnam Time

10/29/2018 3:20:57 PM

Lion Air plane crash: What we know so far about flight JT610

A search and rescue mission is under way for passengers of Lion Air flight JT610 after it crashed early on Monday (Oct 29).

Relatives of passengers of Lion Air flight JT610 at Depati Amir airport in Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia after the crash. (Photo: Antara Foto/Elza Elvia via Reuters)

The plane lost contact 13 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta at around 6.20am, a spokesman for Indonesia's search and rescue agency said, as updates on the crash continued to trickle in.

It was due to have landed in Pangkal Pinang, on the island of Bangka, at 7.20am, the Flightradar24 website showed.

The flight path of Lion Air JT610. (Image: Flightradar24)

​​​​PASSENGERS AND CREW

There were 189 people were on board, including six crew members and two pilots. Two infants and a child were among the passengers.

Indonesian officials named the captain of the flight as Bhavye Suneja, who according to local media reports, has been identified as an Indian national who has been with the airline for seven years.

According to Lion Air, Suneja and his co-pilot, Harvino, had 11,000 hours of flying between them.

THE PLANE

Flight JT610 was a Boeing 737-800 MAX, an updated, more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer's workhorse single-aisle jet. The first Boeing 737 MAX jets were introduced into service in 2017.

Lion Air took delivery of the aircraft on Aug 13 this year, Indonesian officials said.

The plane had a technical problem on a previous flight, but it had been resolved according to procedure, Lion Air's chief executive said.

"This plane previously flew from Denpasar to Cengkareng (Jakarta). There was a report of a technical issue which had been resolved according to procedure," Edward Sirait told reporters, declining to specify the nature of the technical issue.

He said Lion has operated 11 aircraft of the same model, the Boeing 737 Max 8, and the other planes did not have the same technical problem. Sirait said there was no plan to ground the rest of its Boeing 737 Max 8 fleet.

AFP graphic Lion Air JT610.

FLIGHT PATH

Preliminary flight tracking data from Flightradar24 shows the aircraft climbed to around 5,000ft before losing, and then regaining height before finally falling towards the sea.

It was last recorded at 3,650ft and its speed had risen to 345 knots, according to raw data captured by the respected tracking website, which could not immediately be confirmed.

Its last recorded position was about 15km north of the Indonesian coastline, according to a Google Maps reference of the last coordinates reported by Flightradar24.

Kompas TV in a news report cited an air traffic controller at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport as saying that takeoff was normal for the Lion Air flight. But after a few minutes, the pilot radioed back to request a return back to the airport.

The request was approved, but contact was lost shortly after.

"The plane crashed into water about 30 to 40 metres deep," search and rescue agency spokesman Yusuf Latif told AFP.

"We're still searching for the remains of the plane."

Videos and images of the plane's debris floating off the sea of Java have surfaced on social media.

Divers from national search and rescue agency Basarnas look for survivors and aircraft parts from Lion Air flight JT610 in the waters off Karawang, West Java. (Photo: BNPB Indonesia)

Retrieving the cockpit voice and data recorders of Lion Air flight JT610 has been the focus for investigators in Indonesia, as they try to determine the cause of the crash.

The head of Indonesia's transport safety committee said he could not confirm the cause of the crash until the recovery of the plane's black boxes, as the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder are known.

"We are preparing to depart to the location," 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 black box."

The weather at the time of the crash was clear, Tjahjono added.

Debris thought to be from the plane, including aircraft seats, was found near an offshore refining facility in the Java Sea, an official of state energy firm Pertamina said.

The effort to find the wreckage and retrieve the black boxes represents a major challenge for investigators in Indonesia, where an AirAsia Airbus jet crashed in the Java Sea in 2015. Flight QZ8501 was on en route from Surabaya to Singapore when it crashed on Dec 28, 2015.

Under international rules, the U.S. National Transporation Safety Board will automatically assist with the inquiry into Monday's crash, backed up by technical advisers from Boeing and U.S.-French engine maker CFM International, co-owned by General Electric and Safran.

The accident is the first to be reported involving the widely sold Boeing 737 MAX, an updated, more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer's workhorse single-aisle jet.

U.S.-based Boeing said it was "deeply saddened" by news of the crash.

"We express our concern for those on board, and extend heartfelt sympathies to their families and loved ones," it said in a statement.

"Boeing stands ready to provide technical assistance to the accident investigation."

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