Indonesia: 188 Feared Dead in 1st Ever Boeing 737 MAX 8 Crash
A plane operated by the low-cost Indonesian airline Lion Air crashed while on a domestic flight from Jakarta. It's the first crash ever for Boeing's new 737 MAX 8 model.
"It has been confirmed that it has crashed," Yusuf Latif, a spokesman for the Indonesian rescue agency said, as cited by Reuters. The plane was on its way from Indonesian capital Jakarta to the city of Pangkal Pinang on Sumatra, a flight slightly longer than an hour.
Latif said that the jet lost contact with air traffic control some 13 minutes into the flight, and crashed into the sea.
The plane requested an emergency landing almost immediately after it took off, Sindu Rahayu of the Air Transportation Directorate General said at a press conference. He added that the authorities lost contact with the plane after the request.
The plane was packed with 188 passengers and crew, transport ministry official said at a press conference. 178 adults, one infant and two babies were on board. The crew included two pilots and five flight attendants.
Flight tracking service Flightradar24 says preliminary flight data shows a drop in the plane's altitude and increase in speed before the transmission was cut. The plane appears to have plunged into the sea just off the coast of Indonesia, the data provided by the service shows. It was reportedly at an altitude of 3,650 feet when the signal was lost.
The plane was recently-built, with about 800 flight hours, said the head of Indonesia's national transportation safety committee Dr Soerjanto Tjahjono. Lion Air has confirmed that the plane was airworthy and was piloted by an experienced crew. Its pilot and co-pilot had clocked in 11,000 flight hours together. The common number of flight hours for a pilot in a year is around 1,000.
The authorities will not speculate on the cause of the tragedy until the black box is retrieved and they receive a recording from an air traffic control post, Tjahjono said, as cited by The Strait Times.The newspaper reported that the plane could have carried about 20 Finance Ministry staff.
Debris of the plane, including seats, have been found floating in the Java sea near a facility belonging to Indonesia's state oil firm Pertamina, a company official told Reuters. Sailors on a nearby tugboat were reportedly the first witnesses of the crash.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team