Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia, which was still grieving the devastation caused by powerful earthquakes and tsunami in Lombok and Palu, was once again shocked by the crash of a Lion Air flight JT 610 plane on Oct 29, 2018, which claimed all 189 people aboard.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation, but the Boeing`s 737 MAX aircraft that plunged into Tanjung Karawang waters in West Java Province, after some 15 minutes taking off from Jakarta en route to Tanjung Pinang, Bangka Belitung, was relatively new.

The ill-fated aircraft joined the Lion Air fleet in August 2018 and had 800 hours of flight time, according to National Committee of Transportation Safety (KNKT) Head Soerjanto Tjahjono.

Corporate Communication Strategic Officer of Lion Air, Danang Mandala, remarked that the crashed Boeing 737 Max 8 plane was airworthy and had been operated by the airlines since Aug 15, 2018.

The aircraft departed from Jakarta at 6:20 a.m. local time and was scheduled to arrive in Pangkalpinang at 7:05 a.m. local time, according to the Depati Amir Airport authority in Pangkalpinang.

Before it lost contact, the aircraft had sought permission to return to Jakarta due to a problem.

The aircraft carried 178 adult passengers, including an Italian national; three infants; six crew members; as well as an Indian pilot and an Indonesian co-pilot.

Among the passengers were tens of civil servants, 20 people from the Finance Ministry, six legislators of Bangka Belitung, and three police officers.

Few hours after the accident, the plane`s wreckage and several body parts were found floating in the sea not far from Jakarta.

The same aircraft, while serving Denpasar-Jakarta flight the previous day (Oct 28), had encountered a technical problem, which was later reportedly resolved.

Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, on Oct 31, 2018, suspended Lion Air`s technical director and three other officers to facilitate the crash investigation.

The ministry, in a statement, explained that the suspended technicians had "issued the recommendations for that (final) flight."

KNKT, on Nov 3, confirmed that its team had extracted data and information stored in JT 610`s Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) found on Nov 2 under the West Java Sea.

The committee`s Flight Accident Investigator, Ony Soerjo Wibowo, stated at a press conference here on Friday that the FDR, one of the black boxes which recorded flight information such as speed, altitude, and reading of aircraft avionics, was analyzed by the KNKT team.

Although the KNKT had received an offer from the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as the country of origin of the Boeing aircraft manufacturing company, Wibowo stressed that Indonesia had a facility capable of extracting FDR and CVR data and information.

The committee will need at least six months to publish the result of its investigation.

Several officials of the committee recently met with the Boeing manufacturer to design the investigation process, including assistance as far as technical matters are involved.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation has pledged to tighten aviation safety standards by conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the regulations for low-cost carriers and full service airlines.

The pledge is in accordance with an instruction voiced by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) who ordered the authority to tighten safety management for low-cost carriers (LCC) following the Lion Air JT 610 plane crash.

"LCC are operated in all countries, but the most important aspect is to tighten the management of passenger safety. No countries would want such an accident to occur," the president explained on Oct 31.

Jokowi added that he had told the transport minister to tighten and improve safety management.

The ministry noted that it would also intensify the ramp check process for airlines` fleet, especially of Lion Air.

"LCC is a requirement. The problem is not in LCC but how we improve safety," Sumadi stated.

The minister also asked Lion Air to conduct a special audit of its Boeing 737-8 Max planes` airworthiness to ensure that their performance could be identified.

"Of course, there will be sanction. But to whom the sanction will be addressed is yet to be clarified.

Earlier, Vice President Jusuf Kalla urged all airlines, especially PT Lion Mentari Airlines, to further tighten their regulations and technical inspection routinely to avoid airplane accidents.

He urged Lion Air and the regulators to tighten the technical inspection for aircraft.

Reporter: Fardah Assegaf
Editor: Yosep Hariyadi
Copyright © ANTARA 2018