Sriwijaya Air Flight 182
Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-524(WL); @CGK2017 (cropped).jpg
PK-CLC, the aircraft involved in the accident, at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in 2017, in an earlier livery.
Accident
Date9 January 2021 (9 January 2021)
SummaryCrashed shortly after takeoff; under investigation (Search ongoing)
SiteNear Laki Island, Thousand Islands, Java Sea
5°57′50″S 106°34′28″E / 5.96389°S 106.57444°E / -5.96389; 106.57444Coordinates: 5°57′50″S 106°34′28″E / 5.96389°S 106.57444°E / -5.96389; 106.57444
Aircraft
Aircraft typeBoeing 737-524
Aircraft nameCitra
OperatorSriwijaya Air
IATA flight No.SJ182
ICAO flight No.SJY182
Call signSRIWIJAYA 182
RegistrationPK-CLC
Flight originSoekarno–Hatta International Airport, Tangerang, Indonesia
DestinationSupadio International Airport, Pontianak, West Kalimantan, Indonesia
Occupants62
Passengers50
Crew12 (including 6 deadheading) [1][2][3]

Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight from Jakarta to Pontianak, Indonesia. On 9 January 2021, the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-524 flying the route disappeared from radar four minutes after departure from Soekarno–Hatta International Airport. Officials confirmed that the aircraft crashed in the waters off the Thousand Islands, some 19 nmi (22 mi; 35 km) from the airport. A preliminary investigation speculated that the aircraft's engines were still operating upon impact.

The search for the aircraft was immediately initiated following reports by local fishermen. Although wreckage, human remains, and clothing have been found, searches for the full aircraft and all passengers are still ongoing. The flight data recorder was recovered on 12 January 2021, but the cockpit voice recorder has not yet been fully recovered. No survivors have been found.

Flight timeline

Flight data
Top: Route of Flight 182
Bottom: Altitude-speed graph of Flight 182

Prior to Flight 182, the aircraft arrived at Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten at 12:11 PM from Pangkal Pinang Depati Amir Airport.[4] The aircraft was scheduled to take off at 13:25 WIB (06:25 UTC), and was scheduled to arrive at Supadio International Airport in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, at 15:00 WIB (08:00 UTC). After pushing back from the airport's Terminal 2D Gate B1,[5] the aircraft took off from Runway 25R at 14:36 local time (07:36 UTC).[6] The flight took off amid heavy monsoon rain, following a bad weather delay.[7] Due to the significant delay, it was expected to land in Pontianak at 15:50 WIB (08:50 UTC).[5]

Flight 182 was climbing to 13,000 ft (4,000 m) when it abruptly dived, then it suddenly turned to the right.[8] An air traffic controller (ATC) noticed this and asked the pilots what was happening on board, but received no response.[9] According to AirNav Radarbox flight data, the aircraft reported a rapid drop in altitude during the climb phase from 10,900 ft (3,300 m) to 7,650 ft (2,330 m) at 07:40 UTC.[10] Flightradar24 reported that four minutes after takeoff, the aircraft dropped by 10,000 ft (3,000 m) in less than a minute.[11] The flight tracker also noted that the aircraft's last recorded altitude was 250 feet (76 m) at 07:40:27 UTC.[12] According to provided flight data, the airplane experienced a drop of 1,755 ft (535 m) in just six seconds between 07:40:08 and 07:40:14 UTC. It was followed by a drop of 825 ft (251 m) in two seconds, 2,725 ft (831 m) in four seconds, and 5,150 ft (1,570 m) in its last seven seconds.[13] During the fall, the aircraft rapidly changed speed, decreasing and increasing in seconds.[14] Its last contact with ATC was at 14:40 WIB (07:40 UTC) in a location between Laki Island and Lancang Island.[15] The aircraft is presumed to have crashed into the Java Sea near Laki Island and 19 km (12 mi) from Soekarno–Hatta International Airport.[16][17] According to the ATC, there was no distress call during the flight. Indonesian transport officials also stated that the aircraft failed to follow ATC instructions.[18]

Aircraft

The aircraft involved was a Boeing 737-524, registered as PK-CLC (MSN 27323/2616).[19] It was equipped with two CFMI CFM56-3B1 engines.[20] As of 19 March 2012, it flew for 45,359 hours on 24,306 flights.[4]

The aircraft was manufactured in 1994, and had its maiden flight on 13 May 1994. It was first delivered to Continental Airlines on 31 May 1994 under the registration N27610. The aircraft was transferred to United Airlines in 2010 after Continental and United merged. On 15 May 2012, the aircraft was sold to Sriwijaya Air. It was the first of a total of fifteen 737-500s received by Sriwijaya Air in 2012 to replace their 737-200s.[21][4] Sriwijaya Air named the aircraft Citra.[20] Between 23 March and 23 October 2020,[22] the aircraft was stored at Surabaya Juanda International Airport for repair.[23][4] The Ministry of Transportation stated that it inspected the aircraft on 14 December 2020 and issued a new certificate of airworthiness on 17 December 2020. It resumed service on 19 December 2020.[23][4]

Passengers and crew

There were 62 people on board, of which 50 were revenue passengers. Of the remaining 12 crew members, six were operating crew on the flight, while the other six were deadheading as passengers. All are thought to have been Indonesians.[2][3] The majority of the passengers were residents from West Kalimantan.[24] Among the passengers was Mulyadi Tamsir, a politician from the People's Conscience Party (Hanura).[25][26]

The active crew consisted of Captain Afwan, First Officer Diego Mamahit and four flight attendants.[20][27] Afwan was a former pilot in the Indonesian Air Force.[28]

The six deadheading crew and several revenue passengers had transferred to Flight 182 from an earlier NAM Air flight that did not operate.[29][30]

Both BBC News and The New York Times reported that all people on board had been killed.[31][32] At least 17 victims have been identified by the police.[33]

Search and rescue

Several eyewitness accounts were reported. A local fisherman reported that part of the aircraft crashed 14 m (46 ft) from his location. He said that the aircraft exploded in mid-air and a piece of the aircraft that was on fire fell to the sea, with "shards of a kind of plywood" almost hitting his ship.[34][35][36] Meanwhile, residents of the Thousand Islands, near where the airliner crashed, heard two explosions. It was raining in the area at the time.[37] The first report of a crash was made at 14:30 WIB (07:30 UTC), in which a fisherman said that an aircraft had crashed and exploded in the sea.[38] At around 16:00 local time (09:00 UTC), eyewitnesses coordinated with firefighters to search for the aircraft.[37] Junaedi, the Regent of Thousand Islands, also reported that something fell and exploded on Laki Island.[39]

9 January

Footage from KOPASKA showing efforts to search for the remains of the aircraft

The head of the Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency (Indonesian: BASARNAS), reported that the crash site was located 11 nmi (20 km) from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.[40] Personnel from a vessel provided by the Ministry of Transportation reported that body parts, fragments of clothing, electronics, personal belongings and wreckage had been recovered from the sea in waters near the Thousand Islands, with aviation fuel also reported around the location.[41][42] The water near the crash site has a depth of around 15–16 m (49–52 ft).[43] BASARNAS immediately deployed personnel to the crash site[44] while the Indonesian National Police and the Ministry of Transportation set up crisis centres in Port of Tanjung Priok[45] and Soekarno–Hatta International Airport.[46] The Indonesian Navy deployed a number of vessels for the search and rescue operations, in addition to helicopters and KOPASKA (frogman) personnel.[47]

The Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) reported that it will send a research ship to assist in the search and rescue operation. The vessel had been involved previously in search and rescue operations of multiple aviation accidents, including Lion Air Flight 610 and Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 which crashed into the Java Sea as well.[48] Meanwhile, the Indonesian Navy deployed seven ships and divers from the 1st Naval Regional Command to assist the search and rescue process.[49] Soon after, BASARNAS reported that the pings of the aircraft's Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) had not been detected.[50] The exact crash location was later announced to the public.[51] At the same time, the Indonesian Red Cross deployed 50 volunteers and prepared at least 100 body bags for the victims of the accident.[52] Family members of the victims were asked to bring DNA samples and other antemortem information to the Disaster Victims Identification unit at Kramat Jati Hospital in Jakarta.[53] Accommodations for relatives were provided by Sriwijaya Air.[54]

On the night of 9 January, an emergency slide of the aircraft was recovered from the waters near Lancang Island, Thousand Islands.[55] Several other pieces of wreckage were recovered from the crash site; the search and rescue operation was hampered by low visibility.[56]

10 January

More footage with the divers showing remnants of the aircraft

On 10 January, Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi along with the Commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces Hadi Tjahjanto supervised the search and rescue operation on board the KRI John Lie.[57]

The Indonesian Navy announced that three different methods would be used during the search operation.[58] It would also examine any contrast in the sea and sonar would also be used. The Navy later reported that, based on the findings on sea water contrast, several pieces were detected near the South Laju Island. Sea water contrast also showed a "very clear" evidence of aviation fuel.[59] The Indonesian Navy announced that the exact coordinates of the crash site have been pinpointed.[60] The Indonesian Armed Forces said that four teams of divers would be deployed to the site,[61] while the Indonesian Navy will deploy 150 personnel and helicopters to the crash site.[62] At 03:00 WIB, the diving team of KOPASKA dived into the sea in search of remnants from the flight.[63] The Indonesian National Police sent one aircraft, four helicopters, eight boats and fifty divers to the crash site. A total of 192 personnel from the police force was deployed to assist the search and rescue operation.[64] In total, as of 10 January, more than ten ships have been tasked to search for the aircraft.[65]

The search and rescue operation initially had to be halted due to deteriorating weather conditions. However, once it improved, the search and rescue operation was resumed.[66]

At 08:00 WIB (01:00 UTC), police received a bag of body parts; they were later transported to Kramat Jati Hospital. More human remains, as well as life jackets from the aircraft, were also found.[63] Later in the afternoon, more remains and wreckage were recovered from the crash site.[67] Rescuers managed to recover a life vest, pieces from the aircraft's fuselage and a destroyed wheel rim of the Boeing 737. Most of the wreckage was found at a depth of 17–23 metres (56–75 ft).[68] Parts of the hydraulic system of the Boeing 737-524, seating number and a part from the registration code of the aircraft had been recovered from the crash site.[69] The scattered debris and the small pieces of the wreckage indicated a high-speed impact. The Indonesian National Armed Forces said that the main focus has now shifted to find the main body of the aircraft.[70] The Indonesian Air Force also said that it had spotted a fuel spill, suspected to be from the aircraft, covering a very large part of the sea, south of Laki island. Among debris recovered, on the morning of 10 January, were parts of the airplane's wheels, a torn steel alloy sheet with blue paint and pink children's jacket and trousers.[71]

By the night of 10 January, BASARNAS had recovered at least sixteen large aircraft parts from the crash site, including one of the aircraft's turbines. At least ten body parts had also been recovered. BASARNAS later reported that the research vessel KRI Rigel had detected pings from the aircraft's flight recorders.[72] The pings were located 200 metres between each other.[73] On the same day, the NTSC confirmed that multiple debris had been identified, including the aircraft's door, GPWS, radio altimeter, and some part from the aircraft's empennage.[74]

The NTSC reported that they had located the position of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders and that divers would start looking for them.[75][76]

11 January

Recovered debris displayed in front of multiple rescue personnel as BASARNAS gave daily updates on the search and rescue operation

On 11 January, BASARNAS said that the main focus of the search and rescue operation had shifted to retrieve the aircraft's flight recorders from the seabed;[77] a remotely operated underwater vehicle was to be deployed to the crash site to search for them.[78] Both flight recorders were suspected to be buried under the aircraft's wreckage and mud.[79] BMKG forecast that the weather in the morning would be good enough for the search operation to resume. However, it was expected to deteriorate later in the afternoon and the night, with expected wind speed of 8–15 knots to the southwest.[80][81]

As of 11 January, some 2,600 personnel were involved in the search operation, with more than 50 ships and 13 aircraft searching for the wreckage.[82] A heavy rainstorm hampered the work of divers.[83] The team utilized the Triangle Method: the search area was narrowed to a triangle. Four ships, all belonging to the Garuda Jaya class, each equipped with special tools to make the search easier, were planned to be used the next day if necessary.[84] Ten more pieces of debris, including six large parts from the aircraft, were recovered from the crash site.[85]

At least 40 DNA samples had been retrieved by the Disaster Victims Identification Unit.[86] The first identification of human remains was achieved by the police using the Indonesia Automatic Finger Print Identification System (INAFIS).[87] By the end of the day, a total of 74 human remains had been recovered from the crash site.[88]

12 January

The flight data recorder, being temporarily submerged in water for safety reasons

On 12 January, the Indonesian government requested help from the South Korean government with the search and rescue operation. In response, the South Korean government, through the Korea-Indonesia Marine Technology Cooperation Research Center (MTCRC), announced it would deploy research vessels and underwater detectors, and would join the search and rescue effort.[89]

As there were concerns that the debris might have drifted due to sea current, BASARNAS announced that the search area would be widened to 9 sectors;[90] a pinger locator provided by the Singaporean government was to be brought to a NTSC search vessel.[91]

At 16:00 WIB, the flight data recorder was retrieved by KOPASKA and the Indonesian Navy's Armada 1 (1st Fleet) team. It will be sent to JICT 2 at Tanjung Priok, where it will be subject to further inspection.[92][93] While it was announced on 10 January 2021 that the position of both flight recorders had been located,[75] the Commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces said on 12 January that two underwater locator beacons had been found but the cockpit voice recorder needs to be found without the assistance from underwater guidance signals.[94] The beacons on both flight recorders were dislodged in the impact.[95]

As of 12 January, a total of 58 DNA samples had been collected from the relatives,[96] and a total of 26 pieces of debris from the aircraft had been recovered; the remains of at least four people had been identified, including the deadheading first officer.[97][98]

13 January

BASARNAS resumed the search and rescue operation.[99] However, it was halted because the inclement weather was too dangerous for the divers.[100][101] Divers were able to recover only two pieces of debris.[102] BASARNAS stated that the search area will be widened again.[103] Meanwhile, Indonesian Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) stated that the search for CVR will be held until 18 January.[104]

14 January

On January 14, BASARNAS stated that more sectors would be added to the search area. The surface search area would be divided into 6 sectors, while the underwater search area would be divided into 4 main sectors.[105] BPPT announced that 34 locations of the aircraft's wreckage had been pinpointed and a thorough examination would be conducted.[106]

In the afternoon, BASARNAS reported that several search and rescue personnel had tested "reactive" for COVID-19 screening, though an exact number was not given.[107]

During the search and rescue operation, three fishermen had reportedly fallen into the sea, having been hit by high waves which capsized their boat. At least one person died and two others were evacuated.[108]

15 January

BASARNAS stated that, starting on 15 January, an additional search and rescue operation would be conducted on the shoreline. It added that, based on the weather data retrieved from BMKG, the debris would have drifted to the south, particularly near Tanjung Kait. The search area would be concentrated on Untung Jawa Island, Rambut Island, and Bokor Island.[109]

In the afternoon, Denjaka personnel recovered one of the engine's starters. The search and rescue operation was hampered by low visibility underwater.[110] BASARNAS later announced that the search and rescue operations would be extended for another three days.[111]

The casing of the cockpit voice recorder was recovered, but the memory module inside was missing.[112] Two components from the aircraft's engines were recovered.[113]

16 January

As of 16 January, a total of 96 items of debris from the aircraft had been recovered.[114]

Investigation

The NTSC was immediately notified of the accident, with assistance from BASARNAS. NTSC stated that starting on 10 January 2021, just before 06:00 local time, search and rescue personnel would start searching for the aircraft's flight recorders.[115] It added that the investigation will be assisted by the United States' National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), with the Singaporean Government also offering assistance with the investigation.[116][117] On 10 January 2021, NTSC obtained raw data of the aircraft's flight path from radar and interviews with the air traffic controller.[118] Investigators also retrieved the transcript of the communication between the pilots and the ATC.[119]

A spokeswoman from the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation reported that an abnormality was noted during the flight. The aircraft departed from Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on a standard instrument departure. The aircraft had been cleared to climb to 29,000 ft (8,800 m). During its climb, Flight 182 went off course to the northwest. ATC asked the crew about the deviation and got no response. A few seconds later, the aircraft dropped off radar.[120][121]

An investigator with NTSC stated that based on the distribution of the debris, the aircraft possibly ruptured when it hit the water.[82] Combining Flightradar24 data and the shape of the engine turbine's fan blade and turbine disc, NTSC speculated that the aircraft was still operating upon impact; based on the evidence, the aircraft was still responsive at 250 feet which, considering the speed of the aircraft, was near sea level.[122]

There was a public concern that the aircraft was not airworthy.[123] The Federal Aviation Administration initially had issued an Airworthiness Directive to Boeing 737–500 operators, concerning fatigue cracking on the left nacelle support overwing fitting flange fastener hole.[124] The director of Sriwijaya Air insisted that the aircraft was airworthy. Although a 30-minute delay was noted, he insisted that the cause was bad weather, specifically heavy rain, rather than mechanical failure. In response, the NTSC said that they would be coordinating with BMKG in relation to weather in the Jakarta area.[125] However, the Ministry of Transportation later examined the aircraft's airworthiness and determined that the aircraft was safe to fly.[126]

An Indonesian aviation expert said that the aircraft had been stored for repairs by Sriwijaya Air between 23 March and 23 October 2020, signifying good maintenance history.[22] However, other experts speculated that the long time spent inactive may have caused deterioration and that technical problems may have developed.[23][127]

According to Tempo, sources close to the investigation committee revealed that the aircraft involved in the accident had a recurring autothrottle problem for at least a month. NTSC, however, stated that they did not have the maintenance data yet.[128]

On 15 January, NTSC announced that the data from the FDR have been successfully downloaded. A total of 330 parameters were being examined and analysed by investigators.[129] A Reuters report said that the data extracted, such as flight path, speed and engine condition, were "in good condition".[130][131]

Weather

Weather data retrieved from BMKG confirmed the presence of moderate to heavy precipitation during takeoff with thunder reported. The data later showed that a 15 km (9.3 mi) high cumulonimbus cloud was present around Soekarno-Hatta International Airport with the minimum temperature of the cloud tops at −70 °C (−94 °F), prompting speculation that the aircraft had encountered turbulence. Visibility was reported to be 2 km (1.2 mi).[132] Analysis by the Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) showed that weather conditions were not extreme. LAPAN stated that a meso-convective system had been formed near the Java Sea at 11:00 WIB (04:00 UTC), but the system had already dissipated by the time Flight 182 took off.[133]

Responses

In the immediate aftermath of the accident, the state's insurance company Jasa Raharja announced that it would compensate the relatives of the passengers and crew members aboard Flight 182.[134] Each next-of-kin of the deceased would receive 50 million rupiah (US$3,740). Minister of Social Affairs Tri Rismaharini announced that her ministry would give Rp 15 million (US$1,120) for each victim for compensation.[135]

Delegations from Indonesia's House of Representatives visited the operation centre in Tanjung Priok. They later announced that the House would hold talks with the Ministry of Transportation about the accident. They also stated that they would hold talks with BMKG, Sriwijaya Air and NTSC. The Indonesian House of Representatives will scrutinize the operation of conduct of the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation regarding supervision of airliners' compliance with the aircraft's maintenance manual. A full evaluation of every airliner in Indonesia was later ordered.[136][137]

The Regent of Thousand Islands Regency, Junaedi, stated that the government of Thousand Islands will build a monument dedicated to the victims of Flight 182 on Lancang Island.[138]

See also