On Monday, Lion Air flight JT 610 crashed into the sea just off Jakarta, Indonesia with 189 passengers and crew on board. Indonesian investigators are examining debris thought to be from the Boeing 737 MAZ which disappeared from radar during a short flight from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang, according to Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (SAR). It was last recorded in the Thousand Islands regency, north of Jakarta.
On the plane were 181 passengers including one child, two infants, 20 Indonesian ministry officials, six crew members and two pilots.
The SAR has deployed boats, a helicopter and a team of 250 rescuers including divers to the crash site identified in the Java Sea, 34 nautical miles off the coast. Search teams are still trying to locate the Emergency Locator Transmitter which is not sending out any signal like it’s supposed to.
According to recent reports, debris found so far include life vests and a cellphone. The plane’s fuselage and black box nor any of the passengers have been found at this moment. Images released by the Indonesia Disaster Mitigation Agency shows an oil slick at the presumed crash site.
Speaking to CNN, former accident investigation Alan Diehl said that there are four broad categories to consider in an airplane crash: mechanical, human, weather and criminal. Mr Diehl says that since it appears weather isn’t a factor, but ‘everything else is on the table’.
He added, “clearly if you’re having an emergency you have to focus on troubleshooting first of all, and solving the problem, so you probably don’t have a lot of time to talk to the controllers. The fact that they had enough time to tell them that they wanted to return, that is significant.
“The fragmented floating debris suggests that there’s probably not going to be a rescue effort but they should certainly be able to recover the black boxes fairly expeditiously.”
The plane was piloted by Captain Bhavye Suneja, an experienced pilot with over 6,000 flight hours. He was accompanied by copilot Harvino with more than 5,00 flight hours. The plane itself had only 800 hours of flight. On its last flight from Bali to Jakarta, however, there had been reports technical difficulties with that plane but it had been declared ‘operationally feasible’ following an investigation and cleared for flight.
At this point, search teams are canvassing the designated search area under the assumption that the plane has sunk. So it’s a search and recovery, not search and rescue operation.