Indonesian plane captained by Indian pilot crashes, killing 188

Oct 30, 2018, 08:14 IST | Agencies

Pilot also lost his life after the Lion Air plane he was flying lost contact with ground officials

Indonesian plane captained by Indian pilot crashes, killing 188
Family members of one of the victims react to news of the plane crash. Pic/AFP

Indian pilot Bhavye Suneja died on Monday after the Indonesian plane he captained with 188 passengers and crew on board the budget carrier crashed in the Java Sea, Indian Embassy here confirmed.

Suneja, 31, was flying the Lion Air flight JT610 which lost contact with the ground officials 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta Soekarno Hatta International Airport. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft en-route to Pangkal Pinang city crashed near Kerawang, 32 miles east of Jakarta.

"Our deepest condolences on the tragic loss of lives in the Lion Air Plane crash, off the coast of Jakarta today. Most unfortunate that Indian Pilot Bhavye Suneja who was flying JT610 also lost his life," Indian Embassy in Indonesia said in a tweet. The pilots had asked to turn back to airport shortly before losing contact with air traffic control, said a spokesman for Indonesia's air navigation authorities.

The flight carried 178 adults, 1 child and 2 infants. The plane also had 3 crew under training and 1 technician, the statement said. The aircraft was commanded by Captain Suneja and co-pilot Harvino with six cabin crew members. Suneja has 6,000 flight hours and the co-pilot more than 5,000 flight hours, the airline said in a statement. Captain Suneja was a resident of Jakarta. He is originally from New Delhi. The plane was delivered in August and had 800 hours of flying time. It sank in waters about 30 to 35 metres depth.

Preliminary flight tracking data from the Flightradar website showed the aircraft climbed to around 5,000 feet before losing, and then regaining, height, before finally falling towards the sea. It was last recorded at 3,650 feet and its speed had increased to 345 knots, the website showed. The agency's chief Muhammad Syaugi said divers were trying to locate the wreckage.

'Repaired' technical issue on crashed jet
The brand new Indonesian Lion Air plane that crashed had a technical issue that required the Boeing jet to be briefly grounded for repairs, the carrier's CEO said. "It got repaired in Denpasar and then it was flown to Jakarta," said Edward Sirait, without specifying the nature of the problem, adding, "Engineers in Jakarta did another repair before it took off [on Monday]. That's the normal procedure for any plane."

'Don't fly Lion Air'
Australia's foreign affairs ministry says Australian government officials and contractors "have been instructed not to fly on Lion Air" following the crash. The decision will be reviewed when the findings of the crash investigation are clear.

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