MIAMI — A brand-new Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 (PK-LQP • MSN 43000 / LN 7058) crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia.

Flight JT610 had just departed from Jakarta International Airport (CGK) with destination Pangkal Pinang (PGK).

Indonesia’s Transport Ministry confirmed that the plane crashed in the Java Sea, where debris has been spotted.

Several boats, a helicopter and about 250 rescuers quickly deployed to the crash site, which is located about 35 miles northeast of the Jakarta coastline.

Indonesian authorities say that the aircraft’s Emergency Locator Transmitter’s (ELT) signal is not transmitting. Divers are also at the scene, looking for the wreckage at the bottom of the Java Sea.

According to the Ministry, 189 souls were onboard flight JT610, suggesting it was a completely full flight with passengers and crew.

So far, 24 body bags have been moved from the crash site to a local hospital for identification purposes.

The plane, a brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8 that had been delivered to Lion Air in August 2018, was configured with 180 seats in an all-economy class layout.

A search and rescue team was deployed following the lost contact that air traffic control reported with flight JT610 about 13 minutes after departure.

The aircraft departed Jakarta at 06:20, crashing into the ocean a few minutes later.

“We can confirm that one of our flights has lost contact, its position cannot be ascertained yet,” said Lion Air spokesperson, Danang Mandala Prihantoro in a public statement.

A spokesperson for the search and rescue agency confirmed that flight JT610 “has been confirmed that it has crashed.”

Flightradar24 shows the precise moment when the brand-new plane lost contact. After takeoff, the plane reached 5,375ft before suddenly dropping altitude at a rapid rate of descent.

According to the data, the aircraft’s rate of descent was almost 13,000 feet per minute.

Boeing tweeted to be “aware of reports of an airplane accident and is closely monitoring the situation,” about one hour after the accident.

Engine manufacturer CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric and Safran, says it’s standing by to assist Lion Air as well.

Technical Failure Suspected

Reports are coming out listing technical failure as the preliminar cause of the accident.

According to an Indonesia AirNav official, the aircraft’s flight crew had “asked air traffic control to return to the airport” shortly after departure, without indicating whether there was an emergency. However, the plane never turned back.

The airline’s president, Edward Sirait, said during a press conference that the aircraft had reported some technical issues on the night prior to the early morning flight that crashed in the Java Sea.

There is a photo that’s circulating in social media of a Lion Air maintenance log from the crashed plane’s technical report from the night prior to the accident, suggesting an “Altitude Disagree” squawk. However, since Airways cannot verify the authenticity of the photo, it will not be published in this developing story.

Sirait explained that once the aircraft landed from Denpasar to Jakarta as flight JT43, the airline’s engineers “checked and repaired” the technical problem, putting the plane into airworthy conditions to conduct the flight to Pangkal Pinang.

The president also affirmed that the pilot had carried out all the necessary pre-flight inspections according to the airline’s standard operating procedures.

Lion Air sent out a release with more details regarding the crew onboard the flight. “The flight crew on board including Capt. Bhavye Suneja as Pilot in Command has more than 6,000 flight hours and Hervino as Co-Pilot has more than 5,000 flight hours as well as cabin crews Shintia Melina, Citra Noivita Anggelia, Alviani Hidayatul Solikha, Damayanti Simarmata, Mery Yulianda, and Deny Maula.”

The 31-year-old Indian Captain of flight JT610, Bhavye Suneja, joined Lion Air in 2011, together with the First Officer, accumulated over 11,000 combined hours on the Boeing 737 aircraft type.

Indonesia Orders Boeing 737 MAX Inspections

The Indonesian authorities have ordered mandatory inspections on all Boeing 737 MAX 8s operating in the country.

Currently, Lion Air operates a fleet of 11 aircraft of that type. National carrier Garuda Indonesia operates only one.

Current Boeing 737 MAX 8/9 fleet airborne worldwide. Source: Flightradar24

According to local news in Indonesia, the Transport Ministry is in charge of such inspections, with Garuda Indonesia going first, followed by Lion Air’s planes.

However, there are still no comments from the Transport Ministry as to the result of the inspection on Garuda’s plane.

Background Check: Lion Air

Lion Air is an Indonesian low-cost-carrier (LCC) based in Jakarta. The airline, founded in 1999, has become the country’s largest airline, as well as Asia’s second largest LCC behind the AirAsia group.

Boeing delivered its very first 737 MAX 9 to Thai Lion Air. The MAX 9’s extra capacity will help the airline add several international routes. (PRNewsfoto/Boeing)

The carrier has grown to become a major player in the Asia-Pacific region, ordering up to 500 planes in a short span of time.

Just recently, in April 2018, Lion Air placed a gigantic order for 50 new Boeing 737 MAX 10s, valued at $6.24 billion (at list prices). The airline became the launch customer for the MAX 10 variant of the 737 family of aircraft.

Representatives from Thai Lion Air, Boeing, and the Thai CAA cutting the ribbon to welcome the 737 MAX 9 to Thai Lion Air and Thailand. Photo: Bernie Leighton

As of today, Lion Air Group is one of the world’s largest operators of the 737 aircraft family, consisting of 116 aircraft fleet, expecting to take delivery of further 200 Boeing 737 MAXs. Also, the carrier announced its commitment to acquire 50 Boeing 737 MAX 10s.

A Second Accident For Lion Air

Today’s accident is the second major event Lion Air has suffered in its history, together with several runway excursions, overruns, and safety concerns.

In 2013, an also two-month-old Boeing 737-800, undershot the runway at Bali Airport, crashing into the water.

Source: AP

The plane was carrying 108 passengers, of which at least half suffered injuries. Thankfully, however, there were no casualties registered from the accident.

The accident was attributed to pilot error, led by inadequate crew training and “lapses in emergency response procedures.”

The last crash of a Boeing 737 occurred on March 19, 2016, when a flyDubai aircraft crashed in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, killing all 55 passengers on board.

The Boeing 737 family of aircraft has registered, to date, 208 hull losses since 1970. This is a common term used to describe when an airframe is damaged beyond repair, including fatal accidents.

According to the Indonesian Finance Minister, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, 20 officials from his office were onboard flight JT610, returning to Pangkal Pinang after spending the weekend at home with their families.

The Australian government has instructed its officials and contractors not to fly with Lion Air following the recent crash of flight JT610. This decision “will be reviewed” once findings of the crash investigation are released to the public.

This is a developing story. Please stay tuned to for updates.