Aviation

Sriwijaya Air crash raises further questions about Indonesia’s aviation industry

Indonesia’s aviation industry has been thrust into the spotlight once more after a Sriwijaya Air jet carrying 62 people crashed into the Java Sea over the weekend.

Flight SJ-182 took off from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta international airport on Saturday and was scheduled to land in the city of Pontianak on the Indonesian side of Borneo, but lost contact about 11 nautical miles from its departure airport before crashing into the sea.

The flight took off from the same airport as the fatal Lion Air 373 MAX crash in October 2018 that killed 189 people, leading to the worldwide grounding of the aircraft model.

Indonesian authorities located the black boxes of the Sriwijaya Air flight on Sunday, along with an assortment of suspected pieces of the plane and human remains, according to ABC News.

Indonesia National Transport Safety Committee chief Soerjanto Tjahjono said he hopes they will be retrieved soon.

Less than four minutes into the flight, which took off amid heavy rains, the jet disappeared from the radar, according to CNN.

The crash location was identified on Sunday morning and Navy divers were deployed to begin the search.

So far, the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) has retrieved five body bags containing victims and ten bags filled with pieces of wreckage.

Even before the latest crash, Indonesia had recorded 687 aviation-related fatalities over the past decade, making it the most deadly aviation market in the world, ABC News reported.

Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor at industry publication FlightGlobal, told ABC News that Sriwijaya Air will also be under scrutiny, having written off three 737s between 2008 and 2012 due to bad landings.

More than half of the airline’s fleet has been grounded by the country’s transportation ministry due to concerns over the plane’s airworthiness.

Boeing has released a statement on flight SJ-182 and said it was aware of reports about the flight.

“Our thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families. We are in contact with our airline customer and stand ready to support them during this difficult time,” the company said.

The airline posted to Twitter on Sunday confirming the crash.

“Sriwijaya Air expressed its concern and conveyed its deep condolences to all the families of passengers and flight crew on the SJ-182 flight,” the airline said.

“We will continue to provide full support and assistance to the families of SJ-182 passengers during the evacuation and identification process. Sriwijaya Air will continue to coordinate with the authorities in a joint effort to carry out the evacuation and investigation process of the aircraft.”

The airline said the plane was carrying six crew members, 40 adult passengers, seven children, three babies and six more crew members as passengers.


Featured image source: National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas)

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