LONDON – Today in Aviation marks two years since Lion Air (JT) Flight 610, operating from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK) to Pangkal Pinang (PGK), crashed in the Java sea.
This crash was the deadliest in the airline’s 18-year history, and was the accident that kickstarted the Boeing 737 MAX crisis. According to the Ministry, 189 souls were onboard flight JT610, suggesting it was a completely full flight with passengers and crew.
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.
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. At the time, JT released a statement with information about the crew onboard.
“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.”
MCAS Cursing Boeing
A summary report released in October last year stated that the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) onboard the 737 MAX was “the primary cause of the crash” as well as “a faulty sensor, inadequate maintenance, poor pilot training and a failure to heed previous problems with the same aircraft”.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing issued warnings to airlines including training advisories about how MCAS can cause dives like what happened with JT610. However, this was not fully implemented, which then caused the downing of Ethiopian Airlines (ET) Flight 302 around six months later, adding a further blow to Boeing.
ET302 crashed just shortly after take-off outside of Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people onboard back in March 2019. This second incident ultimately resulted in the worldwide grounding of the aircraft due to MCAS, at the time being suspected to have caused the second crash.
We are now beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel for the Boeing 737 MAX and the crisis. The likes of Icelandair (FI), American Airlines (AA), and Ryanair (FR) have all said they are expecting deliveries to take place next year.
It appears as if now Boeing has learnt its lessons from this deadly crash, as this could have all been avoided had the airline focused on safety as opposed to profitability.
As mentioned in my dissertation, the 737 MAX was a failure of neo-liberal market approaches because of the laissez-faire approach to the certification process, which later came to bite the FAA and Boeing.
Looking ahead, as the aircraft begins to come back into service, all eyes will be on both Boeing and FAA to see how it now behaves when it comes to getting aircraft into the skies.
Featured Image: Tail view of a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8. Photo Credit: The National