What to know about the missing Boeing 737 plane that disappeared over the Java Sea

Rescue groups in Indonesia are getting ready for day 2 of their look for the missing out on Boeing Co. jet bring 62 individuals that a minimum of one company has actually identified as a crash after discovering particles that are “strongly suspected” to be part of Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ182.

The airplane lost radio contact quickly after removing from Jakarta Saturday afternoon. The nation’s search company stated the particles discovered in the Java Sea resembles those distributing previously on social networks, and its efforts Sunday will consist of both air and sea, and likewise undersea. A regional wire service stated authorities got a report of an airplane crashing on a neighboring unoccupied island in a location north of the capital city.

The most likely mishap has as soon as again pressed the country’s air travel market into crisis mode. The Southeast Asian country has actually had a wave of airplane crashes in the previous years, consisting of the Lion Air Flight 610 catastrophe that eliminated 189 individuals in 2018, the very first of the 2 737 Max crashes prior to the international grounding. In December 2014, an AirAsia Group Bhd. airplane plunged into the Java Sea with 162 individuals on board.

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Weather Condition has actually been a contributing consider numerous of the previous crashes. On Saturday, heavy rain in Jakarta postponed the launch for the 90-minute flight to Pontianak on the island of Borneo. About 3 minutes after taking off, it leveled off at an elevation of about 10,000 to 11,000 feet for nearly a minute prior to a fast descent to the water in simply 14 seconds, according to Flightradar24’s tracking information. That indicated it was dropping at more than 40,000 feet per minute, a rate far above regular operations.

Without gain access to yet to the airplane’s black-box flight recorders, it’s difficult to state what might have set off the abrupt dive, stated Jeffrey Guzzetti, the previous head of mishap examinations at the U.S. Federal Air Travel Administration. “Right now, given the amount of sparse information, that flight track could fit many scenarios, such as flight crew confusion, instrumentation problems, catastrophic mechanical failures or even an intentional act,” he stated.

The airplane Sriwijaya Air was flying is a 737-500 design that’s much older than limit 737 airplane.

“This is not even the model before the Max, it has been in service for 30 years so it’s unlikely to be a design fault,” Richard Aboulafia, air travel expert at Teal Group Corp. stated by phone. “Thousands of these planes have been built and production ended over 20 years ago, so something would have been discovered by now.”

The jet’s disappearance comes as the air travel market is reeling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, which brought flight to its knees. Covid-19 tore through in a turbulent, unmatched method — leaving providers in a deep hole, along with a constellation of aerospace makers, airports and renting companies. The International Air Transportation Association stated recently that international guest need dropped substantially throughout November, down 70% versus the exact same duration of 2019 when determined in income guest kilometers.

“While we don’t know anything else about the cause of this crash, the biggest thing concerning me is serious concerns about Indonesian air safety standards that were identified by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and others years ago,” Aboulafia stated. “I am not completely certain that the proper procedures have been put in place.”

Indonesian authorities stated they have actually sent out numerous search vessels from Jakarta to the airplane’s last recognized place in the Java Sea, thought to be just around 25 meters deep, and scuba divers are preparing to look for the airplane’s black box. First responders were likewise released to the website to help possible survivors, regional TELEVISION reported. Of the 62 people, 56 were passengers, including seven children and three infants, and there were two pilots and four cabin crew, local media reported. There were no foreign nationals onboard.

“We are aware of media reports from Jakarta, and are closely monitoring the situation,” Boeing spokeswoman Zoe Leong said in a statement. “We are working to gather more information.” Sriwijaya Air said it’s working to obtain more detailed information about the flight, and will release an official statement later.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has appointed a senior investigator to assist in the probe, but is awaiting more information before determining whether it will send a team, it said in an emailed statement. Under a United Nations treaty, the NTSB along with technical experts from Boeing and possibly the manufacturers of other components would participate in the probe because the jet was built in the U.S.

The 737-500 model first flew in 1989 and, according to tracking website Planespotters.net, this particular plane first flew in May 1994. The jet’s last contact was at 2:40 p.m., according to Budi Karya Sumadi, Indonesia’s transportation minister.

Debris, Oil Spill

Fishermen in the Thousand Islands regency found debris and an oil spill in the water, according to video shown by local news channel MetroTV. Footage likewise showed parts found that are suspected to come from the emergency slide, with words including “Boeing” and “737” written in a tag. The regent of Thousand Islands received a report of a plane crashing on Laki Island on Saturday afternoon, he said to regional news website Detik.com.

Indonesia, which had one of the fastest growing airline industries in the world prior to Covid, has a patchy safety record when it comes to air accidents. Its poor aviation history saw carriers from the nation banned from the European Union in 2007 and it was only in June 2018 that the full ban was lifted. In 1997, Garuda Indonesia Flight 152 crashed approaching an airport in Medan in North Sumatra, killing 234. The AirAsia Flight 8501 that crashed in late 2014 was en route to Singapore from Surabaya.

On Oct. 29, 2018, the Boeing 737 Max flown by Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea 13 minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 travelers and crew. That was Indonesia’s second-deadliest aircraft accident behind Garuda Flight 152.

Boeing Woes

The coronavirus pandemic has complicated aviation insomuch as pilots aren’t getting enough opportunity to fly because airlines have grounded planes and scaled back operations due to a slump in demand. On Sept. 15, an Indonesian flight carrying 307 passengers and 11 crew to the northern city of Medan momentarily veered off the runway after landing, sparking an investigation by the country’s transport safety regulator. It found the pilot had flown less than three hours in the previous 90 days. The first officer hadn’t flown at all since Feb. 1.

Saturday’s incident also follows a tumultuous period for Boeing, which only in November had its 737 Max cleared to fly again by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, ending the longest grounding of a jetliner in U.S. history. Brazil’s Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA was the first airline to resume regular flights using the jet, beginning Dec. 9 on domestic routes from Sao Paulo. American Airlines Group Inc. has since also reintroduced the Max on Miami-New York flights.


Earlier this month, Boeing reached a $2.5 billion agreement with the Justice Department to settle a criminal charge that it defrauded the U.S. government by concealing information about the 737 Max, capping a two-year investigation that devastated Boeing’s reputation for engineering prowess.

Sriwijaya Air was established in November 2003. Its fleet is comprised of the Boeing 737 family of jets and ATR 72-600 turboprops. While the company primarily serves domestic routes, it does fly internationally to Penang, Malaysia and Dili, Timor Leste. Flag carrier PT Garuda Indonesia briefly took over the operation of Sriwijaya and its unit NAM Air back in 2018 to expedite Sriwijaya’s debt restructuring, consisting of clearance of dues to Garuda’s unit.

The Boeing jet in question had actually been operated by Sriwijaya Air given that 2012, according to fleet information on Planespotters.net, and was formerly utilized by Continental Air Lines and United Airlines Holdings Inc.

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.