A jet that plunged 5,000ft into the sea off Indonesia with 188 on board this morning had gone in for repairs ahead of the flight, it has emerged.
Lion Air’s flight JT-610 was heading to Pangkal Pinang, an island north of the capital, Jakarta, when it lost contact with air control about 6.33am local time (10.33am AEDT, 11.33pm BST) – just 13 minutes after take-off.
Shortly before the disaster, the plane’s pilot Bhavye Suneja had reported ‘technical difficulties’ and asked to return to the airport, Sindu Rahayu, head of Cooperation and Public Relations at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, said. Traffic control allowed the return, but the aircraft then vanished from radar.
Authorities are not sure why the plane crashed – the weather was sunny, the aircraft was new and the pilots experienced. Photos show debris and personal belongings picked up from the water’s surface by ships that reached the crash area.
This morning, Lion Air’s president said the jet had a technical issue that required it to be briefly grounded for repair work.
‘It got repaired in Denpasar (in Bali) and then it was flown to Jakarta,’ Edward Sirait told AFP, adding that an Indian and an Italian were among the passengers.
‘Engineers in Jakarta received notes and did another repair before it took off’ on Monday. That’s the normal procedure for any plane.’
A relative of passengers prays as she and others wait for news on a Lion Air plane that crashed off Java Island at Depati Amir Airport in Pangkal Pinang
The fate of the passengers are unknown, but relatives were seen crying as they awaited news on their loved ones
The domestic flight lost contact with air traffic control at about 6.33am local time (10.33am AEDT, 11.33pm BST)
The Lion Air aircraft crashed about 13 minutes after taking off for Indonesia. It is not clear how many people were on board (pictured is the plane)
Rescue workers are seen at the site where it is believed the Lion Air flight JT610 crashed just minutes after taking off
Debris could be seen on the water north of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, as rescue ships arrived at the scene in the wake of the disaster
Rescuers have started the grim task of recovering victims from the scene with body bags seen lined up at Tanjung Priok Harbour
Members of an Indonesian rescue team carry a body bag at Tanjung Priok Harbour, Indonesia, in the wake of the disaster
Mr Suneja had worked for Lion Air since March 2011 and had logged 11,000 flying hours.
Pictures and video shared online by the head of Indonesia’s disaster relief agency show debris and oil floating on the water following the crash, of which there are, so far, no known survivors.
Relatives were pictured crying at the Pangpal Pinang airport as they awaited news on their loved ones and family members were also pictured arriving at the agency’s headquarters in Jakarta.
Feni, who uses a single name, said her soon-to-be-married sister was on the flight, planning to meet relatives in Pangkal Pinang.
‘We are here to find any information about my younger sister, her fiance, her in-law to be and a friend of them,’ said Feni.
‘We don’t have any information,’ she said, as her father wiped tears from reddened eyes. ‘No one provided us with any information that we need. ‘We’re confused. We hope our family is still alive,’ she said.
On board were 178 adults, one child, two babies, two pilots and five flight attendants. There were also 20 staff from the Indonesian Ministry for Finance on board, and 23 government officials in total according to Reuters.
The head of search and rescue agency Basarnas told reporters body parts had been seen floating in the ocean near the crash site.
‘We don’t know yet whether there are any survivors,’ Syaugi told a news conference. ‘We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm.’
He later said body parts had been seen floating near Tanjung Karawang, where the plane is believed to have gone down, about 34 nautical miles north-west of Jakarta, but it was too soon to say how many had died.
About 150 people have joined the rescue mission, including 30 divers, as authorities search desperately for survivors.
The air tracking service FlightRadar 24 tracked the plane, showing it looping south on take-off and then heading north before the flight path ended abruptly over the Java Sea, not far from the coast.
The Lion Air flight crashed into the sea having reached an altitude of 5,000ft shortly aftewr take off
The plane that crashed into the sea off Indonesia on Monday had a technical problem on its last flight that was resolved, Lion Air’s president has said
A plane carrying 188 people crashed into the sea north of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta shortly after take-off. Rescuers are seen picking up debris
Indonesian relatives take a picture of a passenger list of the plane crash victims as they wait for the news at the Lion Air Branch office at Soekarno Hatta Airport
Relatives of passengers arrive at Lion Air’s crisis center at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Indonesia. The crash is a blow to the country’s aviation safety record after the lifting of bans on its airlines by the European Union and U.S
Lion Air’s flight JT-610 was heading to Pangkal Pinang, an island north of Indonesia’s capital. Rescuers are seen bringing plane debris onto a boat
Pictured: A passenger’s bag retrieved from the water after flight JT-610 slammed into the water. The condition of the phone indicates the plane crashed with great force
Members of a rescue team are seen carrying what appears to be a body bag during the desperate search for survivors
Pictured: Bhavye Suneja was one of two pilots sitting in the cockpit when the flight hit the water, Indonesian news outlets have reported
A tug boat leaving Jakarta’s port saw the plane falling into the water, which is reported to be about 30-35m deep.
The jet was a Boeing 737 MAX 8 which can carry as many as 210 passengers.
In a statement Boeing said it was ‘deeply saddened by the loss of Flight JT 610’ and expressed sympathy for the loved ones of those on board.
A statement issued by Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said the plane’s Emergency Local Transmitter beacon did not emit a distress signal as it fell from the sky – despite it being tested and declared fully functional until August 2019.
‘It has been confirmed that it has crashed,’ Yusuf Latif, a spokesman for the agency, said by text message, when asked about the fate of the Lion Air plane.
A myriad of debris was located in the ocean nearby the crash site, both from the plane and its passengers
Preliminary flight tracking data from Flightradar24 shows the aircraft climbed to around 5,000 feet (1,524 m) before losing, and then regaining, height, before finally falling towards the sea
No survivors have been found, and seats from the plane were found empty, floating in the ocean, striking fear into the hearts of those with loved ones on board
The relatives were seen comforting each other as they all waited as a group at Depati Amir Airport in Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia waiting for news
‘We cannot give any comment at this moment, said Edward Sirait, chief executive of Lion Air Group. ‘We are trying to collect all the information and data’
Indonesian relatives of the plane crash victims cry as they wait for the news at the Sukarno Hatta Airport in Jakarta
Data from the Flight Radar website showed the plane took off before it stopped transmitting north east of Jakarta
LionAir’s CEO Edward Sirait said a technical problem had been raised about the plane before it took off, but added the plane was cleared by engineers before take-off on Monday morning.
He said the airline owned 11 of the 737 Max 8 models and that none had had any issues up until Monday.
He told reporters: ‘This plane previously flew from Denpasar to Cengkareng (Jakarta). There was a report of a technical issue which had been resolved according to procedure.’
Preliminary flight tracking data from Flightradar24 shows the aircraft climbed to around 5,000 feet (1,524 m) before losing, and then regaining, height, before finally falling towards the sea.
It was last recorded at 3,650 feet (1,113 m) and its speed had risen to 345 knots, according to raw data captured by the respected tracking website, which could not immediately be confirmed.
A plane carrying 188 people has crashed into the sea north of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta shortly after take-off
Rescuers pulled the belongings of passengers out of the sea, but it is not yet known if anyone survived the crash
Pictured: Wreckage from the plane and miscellaneous items belonging to its passengers
Videos online appeared to show oil and debris floating on the water after the crash (pictured)
Dr Soerjanto Tjahjono, who heads up Indonesia’s national transportation safety committee, told reporters the doomed plane had only clocked about 800 flight hours since beginning service in August
Its last recorded position was about 15 km (9 miles) north of the Indonesian coastline, according to a Google Maps reference of the last coordinates reported by Flightradar24.
The accident is the first to be reported that involves the widely-sold Boeing 737 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’s Malaysian subsidiary, Malindo Air, received the very first global delivery.
Dr Soerjanto Tjahjono, who heads up Indonesia’s national transportation safety committee, told reporters the doomed plane had only clocked about 800 flight hours since beginning service in August.
Officials are urgently trying to find out if any Australians were on board the doomed flight.
‘The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is aware of reports of the missing Lion Air aircraft in Indonesia,’ a spokesperson from DFAT said.
The DFAT has also instructed Australian government officials and contractors not to fly on Lion Air until the findings of the investigation into the crash are clear.
‘The Australian Embassy in Jakarta is making urgent enquiries with local authorities to determine if any Australians were affected.’
Lion Air is one of Indonesia’s youngest and biggest airlines, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations.
In 2013, one of its Boeing 737-800 jets missed the runway while landing on the resort island of Bali, crashing into the sea without causing any fatalities among the 108 people on board.
Indonesia has a horror track record on air safety and only recently the European Union removed all Indonesia airlines from its aviation safety blacklist.
Three major Indonesia airlines, including Lion, were upgraded to the top safety tier in June after passing a key international audit.
There have been more than 40 air accidents resulting in deaths in Indonesia since 2001.
A rapid expansion of air travel in recent years has seen an explosion of low-cost airlines operating in the country.
THE TROUBLED PAST OF LION AIR
The Lion Air passenger plane carrying 188 people when it crashed off the coast of Indonesia is the latest in a long list of incidents for the budget flight charter.
The low-cost airline has been involved in numerous crashes in recent years, AeroInside historical incident reports reveal.
In 2017, one of the company’s Boeing jets collided with a Wings Air plane during a botched landing at Kualanamu airport on the island of Sumatra.
Nobody was injured in the collision.
In May of 2016, two Lion Air planes collided at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta airport.
Only one month prior, a plane operated by Batik Air, which is a part of the Lion Group, clipped a TransNusa plane.
Three years earlier, in 2013, a Lion Air jet, piloted by a young, inexperienced rookie underestimated the runway while attempting to land the plane in Bali.
The plane, carrying 108 passengers crashed into the sea and subsequently split in two.
Several people were injured in the crash, but nobody was killed.
In 2013, a Lion Air jet, piloted by a young, inexperienced rookie underestimated the runway while attempting to land the plane in Bali
Indonesian rescue workers helped remove a section of a Lion Air Boeing 737 from the sea four days after it crashed while trying to land at Bali’s international airport (Pictured 2013 crash in Bali)
Several other documents confirm there have been multiple occasions involving miscalculation of runways, resulting in minor damage to the planes in 2012 and 2013.
At least 32 people were killed and another 61 injured when a Lion Air plane skidded off the runway in Central Java in 2014 after landing in bad weather.
Authorities are working to determine how many people were killed on the Lion Air flight that crashed into the sea north of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta 13 minutes after take-off today.
The fates of the passengers are so far unknown, but relatives were seen crying as they awaited news on their loved ones, and body parts were seen floating in the sea nearby the crash site.
Lion Air’s flight JT-610 was heading to Pangkal Pinang, an island north of Indonesia’s capital.
The domestic flight lost contact with air traffic control at about 6.33am local time (10.33am AEDT, 11.33pm BST).
Indonesia’s air travel industry is booming, but has a reputation of poor safety regulations and frequent incidents across the board.
The European Union barred Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe in 2007 due to safety concerns. Lion Air was allowed to resume flights to Europe as of June 2016, and the ban on all other Indonesian airlines was lifted earlier this year.
At least 32 people were killed and another 61 injured when a Lion Air plane skidded off the runway in Central Java in 2014 after landing in bad weather (pictured 2004 crash in Central Java)
It mirrors the reputation of Malaysian airlines, who have been tainted by the memory of missing MH370 and the shot down MH17.
On the 8th of March, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared while flying from Malaysia to China, and was never located – nor were the passengers.
Only months later, in July of 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down on its path from Amsterdam to Malaysia while flying over Ukraine.
All 283 passengers and 15 crew on board died.
Outside of Lion Air’s troubling aviation history, accidents are still rife.
In August, a 12-year-old boy was the sole survivor of a plane crash that killed all eight other people on board a private aircraft.
Three years prior, in August of 2015, 54 people were killed after a Trigana aircraft crashed in poor weather conditions.