By NINIEK KARMINI and EDNA Tarigan, Associated Press
Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) – A jet carrying 62 people lost contact with air traffic controllers after flying from the Indonesian capital on a domestic flight on Saturday, and the wreckage found by fishermen was being investigated Whether it is from the missing plane, officials said.
Transport Minister Budi Karia Sumadi said that Srivijaya Air’s flight SJ182 was delayed for an hour before taking off at 2:36 pm. The Boeing 737-500 disappeared from radar four minutes later, after air contact control by the pilot to climb to an altitude of 29,000 feet (8,839 meters), he said.
The airline said in a statement that the aircraft was on a 90-minute flight from Jakarta, the capital of West Kalimantan Province, on the island of Borneo, Indonesia. The aircraft carried 50 passengers and 12 crew members, all Indonesian nationals, including six additional crew for another trip.
Sumari said a dozen ships, including four warships, were deployed in a search-rescue operation centered between Lansang Island and Laki Island, part of the Thousand Island chain north of Jakarta.
National Search and Rescue Agency deputy head of operations and ready Bambang Suryo Aji said that the rescue team collected aircraft debris and clothes that the fishermen had found. They handed over the items to the National Transportation Safety Committee for further investigation to determine whether the missing aircraft were from.
The commander of one of the search and rescue vessels, which goes by the single name, said that fishermen found cables and pieces of metal in the water.
“A fisherman told us that he got it soon after hearing an explosion like the sound of thunder,” Eko was quoted by TVOne as saying that aviation fuel was found at the location where the fishermen found the debris.
Aji said that no radio beacon signal was received from the 26-year-old aircraft. He said his agency was investigating why the aircraft’s emergency locator transmitter or ELT was not providing a signal to confirm that it had crashed.
“The neighboring Australia-owned satellite system also did not pick up on the ELT signal from the missing aircraft,” Aji said.
Solahin, 22, a fisherman from Lancang Island, said he and two other fishermen heard an explosion about 30 meters from them.
“We thought it was a bomb or a tsunami because after that we saw big splashes of water after the explosion. It was raining heavily and the weather was so bad. So it is difficult to look around clearly. But we can see a big wave after splashes and sounds. We were very surprised and saw the wreckage of the plane and fuel directly around our boat, ”he said.
Tracking service Flightreader24 stated on its Twitter feed that flight SJ182 reached an altitude of more than 10,000 feet (3,048 m) less than a minute after about four minutes after takeoff.
Jefferson Irwin Jouvena, president director of Srivijay Air, said the aircraft was airborne. He told reporters that the plane had already flown to Pontianak and Pangkal Penang cities on the first day.
“The maintenance report states that everything is fine and up in the air,” Jouvena told a news conference. He said the aircraft was delayed due to bad weather, not any damage.
It was raining at Sokérno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta when the plane left for Pontianak, 740 kilometers (460 mi) away.
Television footage shows people and friends aboard the plane, crying, praying and hugging each other while waiting at airports in Jakarta and Pontianak.
Chicago-based Boeing said on its Twitter feed that it was aware of the incident. It said it was closely monitoring the situation and “working to gather more information.”
The twin-engine, single Isle Boeing 737 is one of the world’s most popular aircraft for short and medium-haul flights. The 737-500 is a smaller version of the widely used 737 model. Airlines began using this type of aircraft in the 1990s, with production ending two decades earlier.
Srivijaya started operations in 2003 and flew to more than 50 destinations in Indonesia and nearby countries, according to its website. Its fleet consists of 737 variants as well as regional ATR 72 twin-engine turboprop planes.
The airline has had a solid safety record so far, with no onboard casualties in four incidents recorded on the Aviation Safety Network database, although one farmer was killed when a Boeing 737-200 suffered a hydraulic problem in 2008 Left the runway.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago country with more than 260 million people, has been plagued by transportation accidents on land, sea and air due to congestion on ferries, aging infrastructure and poorly enforced safety standards.
In October 2018, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet powered by Lion Air fell into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people. The aircraft involved in Saturday’s incident did not have an automatic flight-control system, which played a role in the Lion Air crash, and another crash of the 737 MAX 8 jet took place 5 months later in Ethiopia, leading to grounding of the Max 8 for 20 months . .
The Lion Air crash was Indonesia’s worst airline accident since 1997, when 234 people died in a Garuda Airlines flight near Medan on the island of Sumatra. In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from Surabaya City in Indonesia to Singapore fell into the sea, killing 162 people.
Indonesian airlines were previously banned from flying to the United States and the European Union for not meeting international safety standards. Both have lifted the ban citing improvements in aviation safety and compliance with international standards.
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