Jakarta | The crew of the crashed Boeing off Indonesia with 62 people on board did not send a distress signal before falling at sea, an investigation official said on Monday as divers search the remains of the plane and the black boxes.
• Read also: Debris of missing Boeing 737 found
• Read also: The two black boxes located
A recording of crew communications with air traffic controllers reveals routine dialogues and no communication before Sriwijaya Air’s Boeing 737-500 plunges some 10,000 feet into the sea in less than a minute on Saturday, Nurcahyo said. Utomo, Indonesian Transportation Safety Agency (NTSC) investigator.
“It’s like a normal conversation and there is nothing to worry about,” he told AFP.
“There’s no mention of an emergency or anything like that.” Preliminary data suggests that “most likely” the aircraft was still intact when it hit the water.
“But we don’t know at this stage what caused the crash,” insisted the investigator.
A vast search operation involving some 2,600 rescuers and soldiers made it possible to locate the signal from two black boxes of the device at a depth of some 23 meters that the divers are still looking for.
Images released by the navy show a seabed littered with debris where relief workers recovered many debris, pieces of fuselage and human remains.
The latter are transferred to a police hospital where specialists seek to identify them using DNA samples taken from relatives of the victims.
Police said they identified a first victim on Monday thanks to the fingerprint of one of his hands that came to the surface.
“The team (…) succeeded in identifying one of the victims of the accident, Okky Bisma”. He is a 29-year-old flight attendant.
Five missing family members
All 62 passengers and crew on the half-full flight were Indonesians. Ten children were on board, including 3 under the age of three.
Rapin Akbar had five family members on board, including her sister, nephew and a seven month old baby. He went to donate blood at a hospital in Jakarta that collects DNA samples from relatives for the identification of victims.
Her sister’s family took flight SJ182 to Pontianak, a town on the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo.
My nephew “wanted to return to Pontianak on Sunday, but he changed his mind and decided to fly on Saturday,” the man in shock told AFP.
“He called me to say the flight had been delayed and sent me a picture of their baby. It was their first born ”.
Last accident in a series
The investigation into the crash, the latest in a series of air disasters in Indonesia, could take months.
Aviation experts have pointed out that flight data indicates that the aircraft deviated sharply from its intended course before dropping abruptly some 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) in less than a minute, before plunging into the Java Sea.
They believe that the bad weather – torrential rains which had delayed take-off – piloting errors or a technical problem could have been factors of the tragedy.
Stephen Wright, professor of aviation systems at the Finnish University of Tampere, notes that the aircraft’s relatively low speed was a warning sign.
“Something dramatic happened after takeoff”.
Low-cost company Sriwijaya Air, which flies to destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, did not provide information on what may have happened in the 26-year-old aircraft, previously operated by Continental Airlines and United. Airlines in the United States.
This is the first fatal accident involving Sriwijaya since the company’s inception in 2003.
But Indonesia’s airline industry has seen regular tragedies in recent years, and several Indonesian airlines were banned in Europe until 2018.
In October 2018, 189 people died in the crash of a Boeing 737 MAX operated by Lion Air that also crashed in the Java Sea, twelve minutes after taking off from Jakarta.
An accident involving the same model of aircraft in Ethiopia resulted in the immobilization for months of this type of aircraft and a questioning of the manufacturer.
Sriwijaya’s plane does not belong to the controversial new generation of Boeing 737 MAX, but is a “classic” Boeing 737.