By Elton Gomes
Almost a week after flight JT610 belonging to Lion Air plummeted into the Java Sea, several questions remain unanswered as investigators try to figure out the complete timeline of the crash.
Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) today said that the Lion Air jetliner is believed to have suffered a more devastating crash impact than the AirAsia flight that crashed into the sea in December 2014.
No survivors are expected out of the 189 passengers on board Lion Air’s flight JT610, which crashed 13 minutes after take-off from Jakarta.
According to debris collected till date, the ill-fated plane reportedly dived into the water at high-speed and the plane completely disintegrated upon impact with the sea, Soerjanto Tjahjono, the KNKT’s chief, told a radio station.
“The plane broke apart upon impact when it hit the water. There has been no signs of material fatigue. There were worries by some that the plane broke apart in mid-air due to material fatigue. We can confirm it is not the case,” Tjahjono told Elshinta radio, the Straits Times reported.
Crucial data recovered
Investigators were successful in retrieving hours of data from the crash, while Indonesian authorities continued the search for victims and debris.
The KNKT’s deputy chairman Haryo Satmiko told the media that 69 hours of flight data was downloaded from the recorder.
Divers recovered the flight data recorder in a damaged condition. However, they were unable to hear a signal from the voice recorder, as per the head of Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency said.
Muhammad Syaugi, head of Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency, Basarnas, told the press in Jakarta that a “ping” from the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) was heard Saturday but “we don’t hear the ping signal today.” “We checked that spot, located around 50 meters from the location of finding the first black box. But we can’t find the CVR yet,” Syaugi said, CNN reported.
What have investigators said?
Soerjanto Tjahjono, the chief of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee, on Monday, told the media that Lion Air Flight 610 was intact with its engines running when it crashed at high speed into the Java Sea.
Tjahjono said that due to the loss of the plane’s engine blades, investigators have claimed that the flight did not explode in the air, but was in “good shape” before it crashed 13 minutes after takeoff.
Tjahjono added that there was a technical problem with the brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft on the day of the crash, but did not provide additional details about the problem.
Search for victims continues
According to media reports on Sunday, at least 65 body bags were found since the start of the search-and-rescue operation. However, each body bag could contain remains of more than one person.
Investigators will have to rely on DNA samples to identify victims because of the condition and size of the remains found. Police have obtained a total of 181 DNA samples from victims’ families and are involved in matching them with 272 human tissue samples.
Lisda Cancer, head of Disaster Victim Identification, told the press Friday that just one person had been identified so far through a fingerprint. In addition, relatives were brought to the port in order to identify victims’ personal belongings.
Pilot reported issues with plane
The day before the crash, the Boeing 737 MAX 8 – which was known to have only around 800 flying hours – had experienced a significant drop in altitude on a flight from Bali to Jakarta, passenger Robbi Gaharu said.
According to CNN, Lion Air has confirmed that the same aircraft was used on that route. Furthermore, Indonesian authorities have also confirmed that the pilot on the flight reported a problem with one of the plane’s instruments.
Captain Daniel Putut Kuncoro Adi, managing director of Lion Group, told CNN that all relevant information had been handed over to Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Commission. He also said that he was unable to answer any questions about the fault due to a nondisclosure agreement signed to accommodate the investigation.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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