Lion Air 737 Crashes Into Java Sea (Updated)
A Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed into the Java Sea just after taking off from Jakarta, in Indonesia, early Monday, and rescuers have begun to retrieve bodies from the site. No survivors have been found. The aircraft, with 189 people on board, departed at 6:21 a.m. en route to Pangkal Pinang island, about 400 miles north. The crew had told ATC they wanted to return to the airport when they were about 12 miles out, but they didn’t declare an emergency, according to CNN. A crew flying the airplane the night before also had reported problems, Lion Air's CEO Edward Sirait told local media, and the airplane was repaired and returned to service. It's not clear what the problem was or how it was addressed. FlightAware shows the aircraft climbed erratically to about 3,000 feet, then crashed into the sea 13 minutes after takeoff. Winds were calm and skies were mostly clear at the time of the crash.
Controllers reportedly lost radio contact with the crew before the descent began. Officials told CNN rescuers found debris from the tail of the aircraft and they are using underwater drones to search the 100-foot-deep waters for the main fuselage. At least 300 rescuers have been deployed to the crash site. The Boeing Company released a brief statement on Monday saying the company is "deeply saddened by the loss of Lion Air Flight JT 610" and is providing technical assistance at the request and under the direction of government authorities investigating the accident. The accident is the first fatal crash for the 737 Max family.
Weather was clear and did not seem to be a factor. Investigators will likely be focusing on the aircraft performance to determine the cause of the crash, according to CNN aviation analyst Peter Goelz. The aircraft is powered by two CFM Leap engines, and was delivered to the airline in August. Lion Air was established in 1999 and is Indonesia’s largest budget airline. AVweb will update this story as more information becomes available.