A Lion Air airplane from Jakarta, Indonesia, crashed into the ocean yesterday morning, only 13 minutes after taking off. None of the 189 passengers–including one child, two infants, and 20 Indonesian ministry officials—are expected to have survived the crash. Just two minutes after takeoff, reportedly, the pilot had requested clearance to return to the airport, a sign that there may have been a technical problem with the plane.
This was undoubtedly not surprising news to the passengers who flew the same Boeing 737 Max 8 plane the day before from Bali to Jakarta.
Passengers on the earlier flight told TVOne that not only was the flight delayed due to technical problems, passengers were left stuck in the cabin without air conditioning for at least 30 minutes listening to what was described as an “unusual” engine roar. When the flight finally took off, the plane dropped suddenly several times in the first few minutes of its flight, USA Today reports.
The plane reportedly felt like it was “losing power and unable to rise,” causing an up-and-down motion that “felt like a roller coaster,” which then caused some passengers to “panic and vomit.” Another passenger told the New York Times that the plane’s floor felt hot to the touch, and she could see the right engine shaking out of her window.
The plane flew erratically and its air speed readings were unreliable. According to the Guardian, citing data from FlightRadar24, a flight-tracking website, the jet displayed unusual variations in altitude and air speed in the first few minutes of flight before stabilizing and flying on to Jakarta. On Monday, Lion Air CEO Edward Sirait told reporters that the plane had a technical problem on the earlier flight, but it had been resolved “according to procedure.” Sirait did not elaborate.
Reportedly there are no plans to ground the rest of Lion Air’s Max 8 fleet, and this is the first crash involving the Boeing aircraft.
The U.S. and the EU had banned Indonesian aircraft from their skies in 2007 after a string of accidents. The Federal Aviation Administration lifted the ban in August 2016.