Lion Air plane plunges into sea with 189 people on board

Indonesian rescue team members wait for bodies of those who perished in the Lion Air flight JT610 crash at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta on Oct 30 2018
Divers In Indonesia Find Crashed Airliner's 'Black Box'

04 November, 2018

The pilot of another plane that was approaching Bali just after the Lion Air jet had taken off said he was ordered to circle above the airport and listened in to a radio conversation between the Lion Air pilot and air traffic controllers.

Pilots use Pan-Pan calls to flag urgent situations.

"Pan-Pan" is one step down from "Mayday", which signals severe distress.

A relative of passengers prays as she and others wait for news on a Lion Air plane that crashed off Java Island at Depati Amir Airport in Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia Monday, Oct. 29, 2018.

Privately owned Lion Air, founded in 1999, said the aircraft had been in operation since August and was airworthy, with its pilot and co-pilot having 11,000 hours of flying time between them.

The transport safety committee said on Friday it interviewed the crew of the flight that operated the aircraft from Bali to Jakarta the day before the crash and was also gathering data from a military radar outside the national capital, it said.

Data from that flight suggested the plane may have flown erratically and a technical log circulating on social media pointed to different speed and altitude readings on the captain and first officer's instruments.

Two passengers from Sunday's flight posted on Instagram reporting they had been concerned about problems with the air conditioning system and cabin lighting before the plane left Bali almost three hours late.

The government has vowed "strict sanctions" on Lion Air if a probe by the safety board proves negligence on the part of the airline, the ministry said on Wednesday.

We're not sure if the click was taken on JT610 or before the flight took off.

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Authorities are looking for the plane's wreckage and "black boxes", which could hold valuable clues as to why the flight crashed.

The Lion Air plane coded PL-LQP, Boeing 737 Max 8, was a brand new variant of Boeing 737 family which made its maiden flight in 2017.

"We're going to start today to dive at the place where we think the aircraft crashed", said Isswarto, commander of the division of research of the navy of indonesia.

Although the sea floor is only about 30 metres down, strong currents and energy pipelines in the area have hampered search efforts.

"One TV station showed footage of two divers after they surfaced, swimming to an inflatable vessel and placing the bright orange device into a large container that was transferred to a search-and-rescue ship".

Under normal conditions, the data should only take two hours to download, said Satmiko, although analysing it could take several weeks. "What's the matter with this new plane", he said.

"This is the one they really need as it will reveal all indications or parameters of flight and control inputs, plus the flight path", he said.

"During that period, there were indeed measures that the [aircraft's] operators must carry out on the airworthiness of each aircraft in reference to procedures set by the civil aviation directorate general", he said.

The recorder was recovered from a depth of about 98 feet, some 1,640 feet from where the plane lost contact, said search and rescue agency head Muhammad Syaugi.

There is as yet no indication of what caused the crash but the aircraft is believed to have experienced technical problems on its previous flight.

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