Barely a month into 2021 and the world witnessed the year’s first airplane crash. In a world with fascinating technological development, it is often fair to wonder about the possibility of such tragedy. Nonetheless, lives are still lost due to such causes. Thus, on the 9th of January, the Boeing 737-500, a Sriwijaya Air flight, crashed into the Java Sea.
The Indonesian Transportation Ministry reported that the last contact with the plane, Sriwijaya Air Flight 182, was at 2:40 p.m. local time. The plan was supposed to head to the city of Pontianak on the island of Borneo while carrying 62 passengers, including seven children and three babies. Moreover, the flight took off amid a heavy monsoon season rain. An unwise decision, as the 26-year-old plane managed to lose more than 10,000 feet in altitude, in less than 60 seconds after almost for minutes from taking off the ground.
Thus, on Sunday morning the next day, the Jakarta police reported the discovery of body parts, as well as some clothes from the passengers, in waters northwest of the Indonesian capital.
National and international reaction
Boeing acknowledged Saturday’s crash, stating on Twitter: “Our thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families. We are in contact with our airline customers and stand ready to support them during this difficult time”. Moreover, The Indonesian authorities urged close family members to cooperate in providing any form of DNA samples, dental and medical records of the passengers, as a means of speeding up the identification process.
The cooperation that manufactures the plane’s engines, CFM International, also provided a statement. In it, they promised technical assistance to the Indonesian authorities, as well as the Sriwijaya Air.
Furthermore, President Joko Widodo issued a statement providing his deepest condolences. He then said that they “are doing our best to save the victims. We pray together so that the victims can be found.”
On the other hand, the tragedy did reinforce the lack of faith in the Indonesian aviation sector. Though it is Sriwijaya Air’s first crash, the country has witnessed a huge number of crashes and safety lapses over the years, reaching almost 697 fatalities in Indonesia over the last decade. These recurring incidents have even caused the ban on Indonesian planes by the United States and Europe’s regulators for years. Furthermore, according to the Aviation Safety Network’s database, Indonesia is taking the lead as the deadliest aviation market in the world. Thus, it is ahead of Russia, Iran, and Pakistan as countries suffering from the same disasters.
Locating the black box
On Sunday, the Indonesian authorities managed to pinpoint the location of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders. Once collected, this information will prove most vital in solving the mystery behind the plane crash. However, so far, there is no sign of survivors.
“The two signals, emitted by the black box, are continuously monitored, and now we have them marked,” announced Hadi Tjahjanto, an Indonesian Armed Forces chief. “Hopefully, in not too long, we can lift the black boxes for the National Transportation Safety Committee to investigate and find out the cause of the crash.”
Reports of an explosion
At almost 2:30 pm (07:30 GMT) on Saturday, a group of fishermen in the Thousand Islands reported hearing the sound of an explosion. They said that “we heard something explode; we thought it was a bomb or a tsunami since after that we saw the big splash from the water,” in a phone call with the Associated Press. Then added “It was raining heavily and the weather was so bad. So, it is difficult to see around clearly. But we can see the splash and a big wave after the sounds. We were very shocked and directly saw the plane debris and the fuel around our boat.”
What makes this disaster so tragic is that nationals and internationals consider the air-line airworthy. Since it first started in 2003, they never suffered any air crashes or related incidents. Moreover, Sriwijaya Air is Indonesia’s third-largest carrier. According to Sriwijaya Air President Director Jefferson Irwin Jauwena, the plane even completed two previous successful trips to Pontianak and Pangkal Pinang city on the same day.
“Maintenance report said everything went well and airworthy,” Jauwena told a news conference. He insisted that the plane’s initial delay was due to bad weather, not because of any damage.
Al Jazeera. (2021, January 10). Indonesia searchers locate black box recorders in the crashed planes. Aviation News | Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/1/10/body-parts-debris-found-at-indonesian-plane-crash-siteBeech, H., & Suhartono, M. (2021, January 10). Sriwijaya Air Plane Crashes Into Sea After Takeoff, Carrying 62. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/09/world/asia/indonesia-plane-crash.htmlEXPLAINER: Why Indonesia’s plane safety record is a concern. (2021, January 10). AP NEWS. https://apnews.com/article/indonesia-plane-safety-record-explained-cf345a7d62713141693593693e46daa4