A Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 has crashed in Indonesia. The aircraft lost contact with air traffic control at 06:33 local time on the morning of Monday, October 29th.
The aircraft was operating flight JT-610 from Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, to Pangkalpinang, the largest city in the Banga Belitung Islands. The flight departed Jakarta at 06:20 and was scheduled to arrive at 07:20 AM, local time. 181 passengers and 7 crew members, including of 2 pilots and 5 cabin crew, were onboard the aircraft. The captain of the aircraft was Bhavve Suneja.
The aircraft was first seen by AS Jaya II, a tugboat off the coast of West Java, after the crash. The tugboat saw debris floating in the ocean but cannot confirm if any passengers have survived the crash. A search-and-rescue team is currently en-route to the crash site. A tanker and a cargo ship have also reported seeing the aircraft crash into the ocean.
Yusuf Latif, a spokesperson for Basarnas, Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency, said, “It has been confirmed that it [flight JT610] has crashed.”
Other than that, Latif had no comment. The agency does not currently know the cause of the accident, or the location of the aircraft’s two black boxes, which record and store data about the aircraft while it is in flight.
According to FlightRadar24, the aircraft climbed to 5400 feet, then oscillated between 4900 and 5400 feet. The aircraft finally descended to 4500 feet, climbed suddenly to 5900 feet, and then made a final descent into the ocean, at which point radar contact with the aircraft was lost. The rate of climb ranged from 0 to 2800 feet per minute, and the rate of descent ranged from 0 to 7688 feet per minute. As a point of comparison, a normal rate of climb on a commercial flight is 1800 feet per minute, while a normal descent is 2500 feet per minute. Passengers would have felt extreme upward sensations on the descents due to the extreme rate, and they would have also felt that climbs were steeper than normal; passengers would have probably known that something was wrong before the aircraft crashed.
The aircraft was PH-LQP, a 2-month old Boeing 737 MAX 8 that had been delivered to Lion Air in August. Though the plane has not yet been officially written off, it likely will be soon.
The weather around Jakarta at the time of the crash included thunderstorms, which may have contributed to the mysterious crash.
Since Indonesia is a very large archipelago of islands, it relies heavily on air travel, and Lion Air is the largest airline in the country, offering cheap fares to popular destinations. However, many airlines in the country have a poor safety record, and Lion Air is one of many in the country that is banned from flying to the European Union due to safety concerns. This is the second accident for the airline this year after a 737-800 had a runway excursion in April.
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