A Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, with no reports of survivors. It is the first crash of a MAX narrowbody.

Flight JT610 took off from Jakarta at around 6:20 a.m. local time on Oct. 29, and was scheduled to arrive at Depati Amir Airport in Pangkal Pinang City, Indonesia, at 7:20 a.m. However, the aircraft lost contact around 6:33 a.m.

Indonesian officials have confirmed the crash, and aircraft debris and human remains have been recovered from the water. Search and rescue divers are on site. The fuselage has not yet been located and is believed to be more than 30 meters underwater in the Java Sea. 

Local media reported the pilots requested a return to Jakarta before losing contact with air traffic controllers. There has been no indication of bad weather in the area.

The aircraft, PK-LQP, first flew on July 30 and was delivered to Lion Air in August. Lion Air operates 11 737 MAX 8s, according to the Aviation Week Intelligence Network’s fleet database. The carrier has more than 250 737 MAX aircraft on order, and carriers within the Lion group were first to operate both the -8 and -9 variants. Lion Air Group was also among the first to order the largest MAX variant, the -10.

Indonesia’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation said there were 181 passengers, two pilots and five cabin crew on board, although officials have also referred to a total of 189 passengers and crew. Crisis centers have been established at both airports.

Basarnas, Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency, activated 150 personnel and was aided by 150 military and police personnel. About 17 surface vessels are involved in the recovery effort.

According to Flightradar24 data, the aircraft climbed to an altitude of 2,050 ft. and reached a speed of 265 kt. around 80 seconds after takeoff, before descending to 1,475 ft. and accelerating to 330 kt. over the following 25 seconds. The aircraft subsequently resumed its climb to around 5,400 ft., where it remained for most of the remaining flight. Speed was relatively stable at around 300 kt.

Lion Air, a fast-growing Indonesian-based LCC, said the aircraft was commanded by Bhavye Suneja, who had 6,000 flight hours, while the first officer, named only as Harvino, had 5,000 hours. The airline reportedly said there was a technical issue with the same aircraft on its previous flight, although it indicated this had been resolved. A statement from the airline said the aircraft was declared operationally ready. Lion’s CEO told media there were no plans to ground other aircraft.

Lion Air operates 119 aircraft, predominantly 737-800s and -900s, with a total of 446 narrowbodies on order, including Airbus A320neo family aircraft. The airline is one of five Indonesian carriers listed on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry, with its registration current through July 29, 2020.

Boeing said it was “deeply saddened” by the loss of flight JT610 and “stands ready to provide technical assistance to the accident investigation,” and noted that “in accordance with international protocol, all inquiries about aviation accident investigations must be directed to the Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC).”

All MAX aircraft are powered by CFM LEAP-1B engines.

Adrian Schofield, avweekscho@gmail.com