When 189 people – consisting of passengers and flight crew - boarded Lion Air flight 610 in the early morning of Monday 29 October 2018, no-one expected that it would be their last flight. After all, the Lion Air plane - a Boeing 737 MAX 8 powered by two CFM International LEAP engines - was a brand new airplane that had been delivered to Lion Air on 13 August 2018 and had only been operated by the Indonesian low-cost airline since 15 August 2018. In the two and-a-half months it had been in service the aircraft had flown about 800 hours.
Lion Air flight 610 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight that departed from the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (which is located just outside Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta) at 06:20 am and was scheduled to reach Depati Amir Airport in Pangkal Pinang (the capital city of the Bangka Belitung Islands province) at 07:20 am. Thus, in normal circumstances the flight would take about one hour.
However, shortly after take-off, Lion Air flight 610 Captain Bhavye Suneja - an Indian national - requested clearance to return to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport as he detected a problem. Several minutes later, at 06:33 am local Jakarta time, air traffic control lost contact with the Lion Air plane. Within one hour it became clear that the aircraft had crashed, about 34 kilometers off the coast of the Karawang Regency (West Java).
Common causes of air crashes are mechanical failure, human error, pilot suicide, and terrorism. However, in the case of Lion Air flight 610 it seems highly unlikely that suicide or terrorism had anything to do with the crash. Those who enjoy watching Air Crash Investigation on the National Geographic Channel should be aware that most air crashes that occur around the globe involve a combination of mechanical failure and human error (meaning pilots respond inadequately to a mechanical failure). There are indications that this also happened in the fatal Lion Air flight.
This articles discusses:
• why did the Lion Air plane crash?
• was the penultimate flight a warning sign?
• the search and rescue operation
• safety in Indonesian aviation
Read the full article in the October 2018 edition of our monthly research report. You can purchase this report by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a WhatsApp message to the following number: +6287884106944