Lion Air Crash is First for Boeing’s 737 Max 8

Investigators searching for Lion Air's flight data recorders.

The crash of a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 into the Java Sea not long after takeoff from Jakarta has stirred many more questions than answers. The accident, early Monday morning U.S. time, claimed the lives of nearly 190 people on board. Monday’s accident is the first for one of Boeing new 737 Max aircraft, one delivered to Lion Air just three months ago.

Sources available indicate Lion Air’s accident flight oddly appeared to have descended just after takeoff at a time when it should have been climbing. The crew did not declare an emergency, but request to return to Jakarta. The Boeing later continued its climb, but does not appear to have begun a turn back to the airport before again descending at relatively high speed and striking waters of the Java Sea.

The crew of an earlier flight on the same aircraft reported a similar uncommanded descent a few days ago. The aircraft was later returned to service after being examined by Lion Air maintenance. The reason for the uncommanded descent’s are certain to be a focus of the investigation once the aircraft’s flight and voice data are recovered.

Also of concern to investigators of the low-cost carrier accident will be the Indonesian airline’s safety record that included nearly 10 years on the European Union’s banned airline list, along with all other Indonesian airlines over aviation safety concerns. Lion Air, one of the largest low-cost airlines in South East Asia, has a history of other safety incidents, although only one that occurred in 2004 included fatalities. Lion Air was again approved to fly into EU airspace in 2016.

As the aircraft’s manufacturer, Boeing will be directly involved in the investigation into the causes of the accident.


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