While 2017 was a landmark year for commercial aviation safety records — there were zero recorded deaths from accidents and mishaps — 2018 has seen a return to the norm.
The most recent news of an aircraft crash comes from Indonesia, where it's being reported that a Lion Air flight carrying 189 passengers on aboard crashed in the waters off West Java that are between 98 - 115 feet deep.
According to latest reports, six bodies have been retrieved from the waters and search is on for the rest.
The BBC reported that Lion Air's flight JT-610 departed the Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in Jakarta at about 6:20 am on Monday, with Indonesia's disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho stating that the plane was scheduled for a 70-minute flight to Depati Amir airport in Pangkal Pinang on an island chain off Sumatra.
It is unclear if there are any survivors from the crash, with anxious family members and next of kin pictured anxiously waiting for news at the Pankgal Pinang airport.
Beberapa serpihan pesawat Lion Air JT 610 yang jatuh di perairan Karawang. Pesawat membawa 178 penumpang dewasa, 1 penumpang anak-anak dan 2 bayi dengan 2 Pilot dan 5 FA. Basarnas dan Kementerian Perhubungan terus melakukan penanganan. Beberapa kapal tug boad berada di lokasi. pic.twitter.com/Gb6P4zjCQF— Sutopo Purwo Nugroho (@Sutopo_PN) 29 October 2018
Yusuf Latif, a spokesman for Indonesia's Search and Rescue Agency, confirmed the crash and said that the plane lost contact with air traffic control 13 minutes after takeoff. According to CBS News, the aircraft had also requested a return to base shortly before losing contact.
The search and rescue agency posted pictures of the debris it found from the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane that was reportedly brand new and had only been delivered to Lion Air this August. The National Search and Rescue Agency chief Muhammad Syaugi told a news conference that divers are working to locate the wreckage of the plane, which is believed to have sunk after it crashed.
The Associated Press reported that a tug-boat in West Java first reported the Lion Air flight falling from the sky and several vessels are said to have headed towards the location since. A tweet from Nugroho appeared to show various parts of the plane, as well as personal belongings that had been located so far, including books, bags, and even a crushed smartphone.
Available FR24 data for #JT610 pic.twitter.com/kkCDIdPlo2— EDDTSpotter (@EDDTSpotter) 29 October 2018
A tweet by flight tracking website Flightradar 24 read, "We are downloading and processing granular ADS-B data that was transmitted by the aircraft, but preliminary data show an increase in speed and decrease in altitude at last transmission." An image of the flight's path showed the plane taking off and heading south before turning towards the north, where the flight path abruptly ended. The plane was shown to have reached an altitude of just 5,200 feet.
Officials revealed that amongst the 189 on board were 178 adults, one child, and two babies, as well as two pilots and six flight attendants. Crisis centers have been set up by the authorities at both the Pangkal Pinang airport, as well as the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
The news comes as a blow to the country's already beleaguered aviation safety record that saw the US and the European Union only lift the ban on its airlines in 2016 and this past June respectively.
The crash is also the worst airline disaster in the country since AirAsia flight 8501, an Airbus A320-216, carrying 155 passengers and seven crew on board crashed into the Java sea whilst en route from Juanda International Airport, Subraya, to Changi International Airport, Singapore in 2014.