Authorities in Indonesia will inspect all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in the country’s airline fleets after a plane of that make crashed into the Java Sea soon after take-off on Monday, CNN reported. All 189 people aboard the Lion Air flight are feared dead. Authorities intensified search operations earlier on Tuesday.
Commercial airlines in Indonesia are left with 12 such aircraft after the incident – one with Garuda Indonesia and the rest with Lion Air. Garuda’s plane was inspected on Monday night, Transportation Ministry official Captain Avirianto was quoted as saying. The ministry hopes to inspect at least three more belonging to Lion Air on Tuesday night, and the remaining soon.
Six aircraft of the same model are in operation in India, and are used by Jet Airways and SpiceJet. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation of India had on Monday said there were no problems with those aircraft but it was in touch with Boeing and the Federal Aviation Authority to know more details about the crash, PTI reported.
Boeing on Monday said it “stands ready to provide technical assistance to the accident investigation”.
Search area expanded
Authorities have expanded the search and rescue operations to at least 400 square nautical miles, Didi Hamzar, the director of preparedness for Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, told reporters on Tuesday. As many as 35 ships and 50 divers were focused on 13 priority areas, said Didi, according to CNN.
Search and rescue operations – which involve 812 personnel so far – are expected to continue round the clock for the next three days. Twenty-six body bags of remains have been collected so far. Police are using DNA, fingerprints and tooth samples to identify remains, and this will take four days, Inspector General Arthur Tampi said.
Earlier in the day, President Joko Widodo met search teams at the Tanjung Priok port, where the remains and debris are being unloaded.
Authorities said it was unlikely that the remains of all the passengers will be found. The body of a baby was found on Tuesday morning. “I saw body parts, there was a baby, adults for sure and and some items like shoes,” Deputy National Police Chief Ari Dono Sukmanto said, adding that identifying people will be difficult as very few bodies are intact. Dental records will probably be the most reliable, he said.
An underwater acoustic beacon was deployed to locate the main body of the plane and the flight recorder inside that was en route from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta to the city of Pangkal Pinang in Bangka Island.
Technical problems in previous journey
Meanwhile, National Transport Safety Committee deputy chief Haryo Satmiko said on Tuesday that there were technical problems on the aircraft’s previous flight on Sunday, including unreliable airspeed readings, Reuters reported. Lion Air Chief Executive Officer Edward Sirait had said on Monday that the problem had been resolved “according to procedure”.
“The suspected cause of the accident is still being investigated and it is making us all curious what could have caused it,” said Haryo Satmiko.
Two passengers on Sunday’s flight had posted on Instagram that they had been concerned about problems with the air conditioning system and cabin lighting. One of them reported a “weird” engine noise after take-off that continued during the journey.
The flight on Sunday had landed in Jakarta at 10.55 pm that day, after which engineers looked into the faults. The aircraft took off for its next journey to Pangkal Pinang at 6.20 am the next day and crashed 13 minutes later.