Indonesia plane crash

62 people killed as Sriwijaya Air flight plunges into the Java Sea moments after takeoff

Photo by CNN.

— 2 minute read — By Madi Sutton

Flight SJ182 made its last contact at 14:40 local time, just four minutes after taking off from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. It reached the height of 10,900ft and is then reported to have commenced a steep decent – transmission stopped 21 seconds later. The 62 people on board consisted of 50 passengers and 12 crew, despite the aircraft having a capacity of 130. All on board, including seven children and three babies, were Indonesian.

The plane was almost 27 years old and was reported as having an auto-throttle issue just days before the crash occurred, despite passing its airworthiness inspection in December 2020. It is possible for the throttle to be controlled manually and although the pilots had decades of experience between them, it is still unclear if this was a factor in the crash.

After witnesses reported hearing an explosion, a rescue search commenced; with divers salvaging a damaged fan blade, as well as body parts and clothing, but no survivors. Preliminary results revealed that the plane was still functioning and intact before crashing into the Java Sea.  

Officials say divers have since retrieved one of the two black boxes of the Boeing 737-500. The resting place of the plane was located between the small islands of  Lancang and Laki, approximately 75 feet underwater. A full report is underway, however, it could take up to a year for investigations to be published.

Two crisis centres for the families of the 62 onboard were established at the airport and port. The airline said in a statement “our thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families”. Despite the budget airline having a good safety record up until this crash, the Indonesian aviation industry has received considerable criticism about its poor safety standards. This caused the EU to ban all Indonesian aircrafts in 2007. The ban was lifted in 2018, due to improved regulations, but the track record of Indonesian aviation crashes is still a cause of concern for some.

A memorial for friends and family of the victims occurred on 22nd January, as a two-week search for human remains and wreckage concluded. They must now wait for investigations into their loved ones cause of death to be released.