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Indonesia locates crash site and black boxes of Boeing plane

Indonesia locates crash site and black boxes of Boeing plane

 Suspected remains of flight SJ182 have been found, and there are plans to recover more remains by Sunday afternoon, said military chief Hadi Tjahjanto. Emergency signals transmitted by two devices have been detected, and the search team has located both flight recorders, according to authorities.

"We believe it is the scene of the accident," Tjahjanto said in a televised briefing. Items found 75 feet (23 meters) underwater include life jackets and parts of the aircraft bearing his registration number, he said.

The confirmation that the plane had crashed came about 20 hours after its disappearance after its departure from the capital, Jakarta, and the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, called for the maximum effort to search and rescue the victims.

While the cause has not been determined, the accident has once again pushed the country's aviation industry into a state of crisis. Indonesia has had a number of plane crashes in the past decade, including the Lion Air Flight 610 disaster that killed 189 people in 2018, the first of two 737 Max crashes that led to a global ground connection. In December 2014, an AirAsia Group Bhd. It sank in the Java Sea with 162 people on board.

The aircraft that Sriwijaya Air was flying is a 737-500 model which is much older than the 737 Max aircraft.

Rescue personnel established an area to contain debris and debris from the missing Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ 182 on January 9.

Weather has been a contributing factor to several of the accidents in the past. On Saturday, heavy rains in Jakarta delayed the takeoff of flight SJ182 by 90 minutes to Pontianak on the island of Borneo.

It finally took off at 2:36 p.m. local time, reaching 1,700 feet a minute later, where Jakarta's air traffic controllers cleared to ascend to 29,000 feet, according to Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi. Four minutes after takeoff, the controllers noticed that the aircraft was not on the assigned route. He radioed the crew, and within seconds the aircraft disappeared from radar, he said.

Tracking data from Flightradar24 showed the plane stabilized at an altitude of approximately 10,000 to 11,000 feet 3 minutes after takeoff, before a rapid descent into the water in just 14 seconds. That meant it was falling at more than 40,000 feet per minute, a speed well above routine operations.

Preliminary readings of flight data transmitted by the aircraft through the dependent surveillance automatic transmission system appeared to show "possible disorientation" of the pilots, said aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman.

"While we have to wait for the final report of the investigation to know the true cause of the incident, but the preliminary data seems to point to a possible disorientation in the cabin, to which bad weather is a factor here," he said.

With no access yet to the plane's black box flight recorders, it's impossible to say what might have triggered the sudden crash, said Jeffrey Guzzetti, former chief of accident investigations for the US Federal Aviation Administration. Given the limited amount of information, that runway could adapt to many scenarios, such as flight crew confusion, instrumentation problems, catastrophic mechanical failures or even an intentional act, ”he said.

Indonesia deployed divers, warships, sonar vessels and aircraft on Sunday. Of the 62 people, 50 were passengers, including seven children and three babies, and there were two pilots, four cabin crew and six off-duty crew, local media reported. There were no foreign nationals on board.

Boeing is "closely monitoring the situation," spokeswoman Zoe Leong said in a statement. "We are working to collect more information." Sriwijaya Air said it is working to obtain more detailed information about the flight.

The 737-500 model first flew in 1989 and, according to the tracking website, this particular aircraft first flew in May 1994.

"This is not even the pre-Max model, it has been in service for 30 years so this is unlikely to be a design flaw," said Richard Aboulafia, aviation analyst at Teal Group Corp. "They have been built and built thousands of these planes production ended more than 20 years ago, so something would have been discovered by now. "

The accident comes as the aviation industry is recovering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which brought air travel to its knees. Covid-19 made its way in a tumultuous and unprecedented way, leaving carriers in a deep hole, along with a constellation of aerospace manufacturers, airports, and leasing companies. The International Air Transport Association said last week that global passenger demand fell significantly during November, down 70% from the same period in 2019 when measured in revenue per passenger-kilometers.

Security concerns

"While we know nothing more about the cause of this accident, what concerns me most are the serious concerns about Indonesia's aviation safety standards that were identified by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and others years ago," Aboulafia said. "I'm not entirely sure that the proper procedures have been put in place."

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has appointed a principal investigator to assist in the investigation, but is awaiting more information before determining whether to send a team, he said in an emailed statement. Under a United Nations treaty, the NTSB along with technical experts from Boeing and possibly other component manufacturers would be involved in the investigation because the plane was built in the US.

Irregular disc

Indonesia, which had one of the fastest growing airline industries in the world before Covid, has a mixed safety record when it comes to air accidents. Its poor aviation record saw the nation's carriers excluded from the European Union in 2007 and only in June 2018 was the total ban lifted. In 1997, Garuda Indonesia Flight 152 crashed while approaching an airport in Medan in North Sumatra, killing 234. AirAsia Flight 8501 that crashed in late 2014 was heading to Singapore from Surabaya.

On October 29, 2018, the Boeing 737 Max flown by Lion Air sank in the Java Sea 13 minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 passengers and crew. That was the second deadliest plane crash in Indonesia.

The coronavirus pandemic has complicated aviation to the extent that pilots do not have enough opportunities to fly because airlines have grounded their planes and reduced their operations due to a drop in demand. On September 15, an Indonesian flight carrying 307 passengers and 11 crew members to the northern city of Medan momentarily deviated from the runway after landing, prompting an investigation by the transportation safety regulator. It found that the pilot had flown less than three hours in the previous 90 days. The first mate had not flown at all since February 1.

"This concern about the lack of flight hours among the pilots could have materialized here," Soejatman said. “The Indonesian airline domestic market is recovering from the Covid hiatus and this could have put significant pressure on the crew. Add that with all the personal conditions these people may have due to the reduced salary and all, this is a challenging time for the industry. "

Saturday's crash also follows a tumultuous period for Boeing, which only in November had its 737 Max cleared to fly again by the US Federal Aviation Administration, ending the longest stop for an airliner. in US history, the Brazilian Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA was the first airline to resume regular flights using the jet, as of December 9 on domestic routes from Sao Paulo. Since then, American Airlines Group Inc. has also reintroduced the Max on Miami-New York flights.


Earlier this month, Boeing reached a $ 2.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department to resolve a criminal charge in which it defrauded the United States government by withholding information about the 737 Max, culminating a two-year investigation. that devastated the company's reputation for engineering prowess.

Sriwijaya Air was established in November 2003. Its fleet consists of the Boeing 737 family of aircraft and ATR 72-600 turboprops. While the company mainly serves domestic routes, it flies internationally to Penang, Malaysia and Dili, Timor Leste. Flag carrier PT Garuda Indonesia briefly took over the operation of Sriwijaya and its NAM Air unit in 2018 to accelerate the restructuring of Sriwijaya's debt, including the settlement of quotas to the Garuda unit.

The Boeing aircraft in question had been operated by Sriwijaya Air since 2012, according to fleet data on, and was previously used by Continental Air Lines and United Airlines Holdings Inc.

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