A day after Indonesian Lion Air flight 610 crashed into the sea minutes after takeoff from the capital Jakarta, questions are being asked as to what caused the new Boeing jet to suddenly lose altitude, killing all 189 people on board.
The search was stopped for the night although sonar vessels and an underwater drone continued hunting for the downed airliner.
“Hopefully this morning we can find the wreckage or fuselage,” Soerjanto Tjahjono, the head of Indonesia’s transport safety panel, told Reuters news agency.
Divers and rescue teams were working Tuesday to bring passenger remains out of the water, as investigators examined fragments of debris scattered over a large expanse of sea.
The aircraft’s fuselage and flight data recorders are yet to be recovered, which should provide more evidence as to what caused the flight to crash about 13 minutes after taking off on a routine flight expected to take just over one hour.
Reports emerged that the flight crew reported an issue with the plane the night before the flight, repairs were carried out.
Lion Air’s aeroplane was almost brand new though it crashed shortly after take-off from the airport in Jakarta after the pilot reported he needed to return the aircraft to the ground.
The Boeing 737 was flown for the first time on August 15, and the airline said it had been certified as airworthy before Monday’s flight by an engineer who is a specialist in Boeing models.
The plane, a new Boeing 737 MAX 8, was carrying 181 passengers, as well as six cabin crew members and two pilots, bound for Pangkal Pinang on the Indonesian island of Bangka. It made a request to air traffic control to return to the airport around 19 kilometers (12 miles) after takeoff, but did not indicate there was any emergency.
Radar data did not show that the plane had turned back, and air traffic controllers lost contact with it soon after, Yohanes Sirait, spokesman for AirNav Indonesia, the agency that oversees air traffic navigation, told CNN.
David Soucie, a former safety inspector with the US Federal Aviation Administration, said the fact that an emergency wasn’t declared should be a cause for concern.
“What’s most peculiar to me is the fact that they didn’t declare an emergency. They just simply said, ‘we’re going back’,” said Soucie, a CNN safety analyst.
“But when I look at the track of the aircraft after that, the aircraft made a very steep dive after that which is not typical of what they would’ve done,” he added. “They would have maintained altitude and made that turn and come back to (the airport).”
Based on CNN and Al Jazeera