Indonesia Grapples With First Airplane Crash of 2021


Photo Credit: 9News/Flightradar24

The search for Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 debris in the waters surrounding the Pulau Laki island continues where the plane presumably crashed.

Luiza Decenzi, Editor-in-Chief

January 9th marked the first aviation accident of 2021, following a record low year in aircraft accidents. The Sriwijaya Air Flight 182, a 90 minute flight meant to transport 62 passengers from Jakarta to Pontianak, was declared missing shortly after its disappearance from radars.

Some sources report the aircraft taking off at 2:36pm Western Indonesia Time (WIB) and losing contact with radars within four minutes from departure, referencing Budi Karya, the Indonesian Minister for Transportation. 

Other sources such as USA Today announced that the plane took off from Soekarno–Hatta International Airport at 1:56pm (WIB). The aircraft classified as a Boeing 737-500 then reportedly disappeared from radars at 2:40pm (WIB), according to Adita Irawati from the Indonesian Transportation Ministry.

The plane was presumed to have rapidly lost altitude and crashed into the water, no distress call was made during the occurrence. The search for the aircraft and its missing passengers was initiated by the National Search and Rescue Agency immediately following the detection of debris by fishermen. 

According to the New York Times, “Navy divers recovered the plane’s flight data recorder on [January 12th], one of two so-called black boxes investigators will use to find out what happened.” Other debris such as remnants of the aircraft, electronics, clothing, and body parts have also been located in the vicinity of the Thousand Islands, North Jakarta and the plane is said to have crashed more specifically near Pulau Laki. 

Of the 62 Indonesian victims, 50 were paying passengers and 12 were crew members. “Forty people have so far been identified through fingerprints and DNA,” the New York Times reported. No survivors have been found to date. 

“We have to find all 62 people. That’s why there’s still a lot to do. We’ve retrieved more than 100 human parts but that doesn’t mean all 62 people on board have been found,” Charles Batlajery, an Indonesian rescuer, disclosed to Channel News Asia.

Investigation into the cause of the accident is ongoing. BBC details, “Indonesia’s transport ministry on Tuesday said the aircraft had been grounded during the pandemic, and passed an inspection on 14 December. It made its first flight five days later with no passengers before resuming commercial flights on 22 December.”

Indonesia National Transportation Safety Committee along with the National Search and Rescue Agency continue to work on this investigation with help from the United States’ National Transportation Safety Board and the Singaporean Government in order to discover what happened during that turbulent afternoon.