Indonesia dismisses Lion Air director, technicians after plane crash

Elias Hubbard
November 3, 2018

Approximately 13 minutes after takeoff the plane crashed.

Rescuers have also located a 70-foot-long object on the seafloor that they believe is the plane's fuselage and are working to confirm the origin of an underwater "ping" thought to have come from one of the plane's recorders, Reuters reports.

The flight data recorder was greeted at the Jakarta International Container Terminal by Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi and Soerjanto Tjahjono, the head of Indonesia's transport safety committee (KNKT).

A group of 100 divers are focusing their efforts on five locations where debris has been identified by sonar equipment -including what could be part of the fuselage - according to Didi Hamzar, an official with Indonesia's search and rescue agency. Safety experts caution, however, that the data must be checked for accuracy against the plane's black boxes.

The Boeing-737 MAX, which went into service just months ago, crashed into the Java Sea moments after it had asked to return to Jakarta on Monday.

Indonesia's air travel industry is booming, with the number of domestic passengers growing significantly over the past decade, but it has acquired a reputation for poor regulation and its airlines had previously been banned from United States and European airspace.

Lion Air managing director Daniel Putut said the airline had "many questions" for the Chicago-based company and they would discuss the delivery of remaining aircraft 737-MAX models, Indonesian news website tirto.id reported.

The flight data recorder contains technical information about the flight, detailed by the plane's onboard flight systems.

Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said the airline would be subjected to a ministry inspection and operations of all low-priced airlines in Indonesia would be reviewed.

Lion Air's president Edward Sirait said there were reports of technical problems with the flight from Bali but said it had been resolved in accordance with the procedures released by the plane manufacturer.

Two interviewed on Indonesian TV recalled details such as a unusual engine sound, a smell of burnt cables, and panicked passengers crying out for God to save them as the plane rapidly lost altitude.

Aviation analysts said it was too early to determine what caused the accident.

FlightRadar24 also reported unusual air speeds and altitudes in the few minutes that Flight JT610 was in the air on Monday.

Indonesian search and rescue workers had since found debris and possibly the fuselage of the nearly new Boeing 737 MAX 8.

Indonesian aviation authorities ordered the inspection of 12 other Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircrafts belonging to commercial airlines in the country. The agency lifted the ban in 2016.The European Union similarly barred Indonesian carriers from flying into European airspace from 2007 until June. Earlier this year it confirmed a deal to buy 50 new Boeing narrow-body aircraft worth an estimated $6.2 billion. It's been expanding aggressively in Southeast Asia, a fast-growing region of more than 600 million people.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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