Jakarta: An Indonesian aircraft with 189 people on board crashed into the sea on Monday as it tried to circle back to the capital, Jakarta, from where it had taken off minutes earlier, and there were likely no survivors, officials said.
Lion Air flight JT610, an almost new Boeing 737 MAX 8, was en route to Pangkal Pinang, capital of the Bangka-Belitung tin mining region. Rescue officials said they had recovered some human remains from the crash site, about 15 km (9 miles) off the coast.
The pilot had asked to return to base (RTB) after the plane took off from Jakarta. It lost contact with ground staff after 13 minutes.
“An RTB was requested and had been approved but we’re still trying to figure out the reason,” Soerjanto Tjahjono, head of Indonesia’s transport safety committee, told reporters, referring to the pilot’s request.
Search and rescue agency head Muhmmad Syaugi told a news conference that no distress signal had been received from the aircraft’s emergency transmitter.
Edward Sirait, chief executive of Lion Air Group, told reporters the aircraft had had a technical problem on a flight from the resort island of Bali to Jakarta but it had been “resolved according to procedure”.
The accident is the first to be reported involving the widely sold Boeing 737 MAX, an updated, more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer’s workhorse single-aisle jet.
Privately owned Lion Air said the aircraft had been in operation since August, was airworthy, with its pilot and co-pilot together having accumulated 11,000 hours of flying time.
The plane was piloted by Indian pilot Bhavye Suneja. The 31-year-old had 6,000 flight hours. Captain Suneja, a resident of Jakarta, was originally from New Delhi....