A Sriwijaya Air plane thought to have 62 people on board lost contact after taking off from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta on Saturday and rescuers said suspected debris had been found in the sea off the city.
Read the latest: Location of missing Sriwijaya flight 182 found: Indonesian navy
The Boeing 737-500, en route to Pontianak in West Kalimantan, lost contact shortly after taking off just after 2.30 p.m. (0730 GMT), a search and rescue official told local television.
Indonesian Transport Minister Budi Karya told a news conference that 62 people had been aboard, including 12 crew. Another official had said earlier there were 56 passengers and six crew.
Reliable tracking service Flightradar24 said on its Twitter feed that Flight SJ182 “lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta”.
This is what we know about Sriwijaya Air flight #SJ182 based on ADS-B data.— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) January 9, 2021
Route: Jakarta to Pontianak
Aircraft: Boeing 737-500, PK-CLC
Take off: 07:36 UTC
Highest altitude: 10,900 feet
Last altitude: 250 feet
Signal lost: 07:40 UTChttps://t.co/fNZqlIR2dz pic.twitter.com/CPzFJdsuJZ
Bagus Puruhito, head of the country's search and rescue agency Basarnas, said teams had been dispatched to search the waters north of Jakarta. No radio beacon signal had been detected, the agency said.
Agus Haryono, another official with the agency, told Reuters that debris suspected to be from the plane had been found in the sea, but it had not been confirmed that it came from the missing flight.
#BREAKING Rescue team find parts of the Boeing 737-500 Sriwijaya aircraft #SJ182— ALPHA PRO (@DTMsport) January 9, 2021
The plane lost more than 10,000 ft altitude in less than a min before disappearing from radar.
Sources confirmed the crash. pic.twitter.com/kgTvok0Rod
A Boeing spokeswoman said, “We are aware of media reports from Jakarta, and are closely monitoring the situation. We are working to gather more information”.
Surachman, a local government official, told Kompas TV that fishermen found what appeared to be the wreckage. Other channels showed pictures of suspected wreckage.
“We found some cables, a piece of jeans, and pieces of metal on the water,” Zulkifli, a security official, told CNNIndonesia.com.
Nurhasan, a fisherman in the area known as Thousand Islands, told local media that he and his crew had found several pieces of metal.
The aircraft was 27 years old, according to registration details included in the Flightradar24 tracking data.
It was raining at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at the time of take-off for Pontianak, around 740 kilometer (460 miles) away.
Video images from the airport showed pictures of relatives of the passengers in tears as they awaited news of the fate of the aircraft.
A Boeing 737 MAX operated by Indonesian airline Lion Air crashed off Jakarta in late 2018, killing all 189 passengers and crew. The plane that lost contact on Saturday is a much older model.
Rescue official Agus said 50 people were taking part in the search and that they would keep searching into the night.
Founded in 2003, Jakarta-based Sriwijaya Air group flies largely within Indonesia.
The airline has a solid safety record until now, with no onboard casualties in four incidents recorded on the Aviation Safety Network database, though a farmer was killed when a Boeing 737-200 left the runway in 2008 following a hydraulic problem.
The Boeing 737 is the world’s most-sold family of aircraft and has undergone several makeovers since it entered service in 1968.
Indonesia's Ministry of Transport says Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 was carrying 56 passengers (46 adults, seven children, and three infants) and six crew members. https://t.co/v2g1CHe2hw pic.twitter.com/v6aFYFhM6K— Breaking Aviation News & Videos (@breakingavnews) January 9, 2021
The 737-500 is two generations of development before the most recent 737 MAX, which has been embroiled in a worldwide safety crisis following crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. It does not use the software system implicated in those crashes.
Nonetheless, experts say planes such as Sriwijaya’s leased 737-500 are being phased out for newer fuel-saving models. Civil jets typically have an economic life of 25 years, meaning they become too expensive to keep flying beyond that compared to younger models, but they are built to last longer.