The Sriqiajaya Air jet that disappeared over the weekend hadn't flown for nine months and was 26 years old, according to several reports revealing more details on the devastating plane crash that killed 62 people. The Boeing Co. 737-500 took off from the capital Jakarta when, after four minutes in the air, it suddenly dove into the water amid intense rainfall, according to several reports. Authorities are not expecting to find any survivors.
Only four victims have been identified so far, The New York Times reported. The flight was destined to land 90 minutes later in Pontianak on the island of Borneo. But once in the air, the plane crashed into the Java Sea on Saturday, CBS News reported.
Among the victims on board included seven children and three babies, according to a statement by the airlines.
Search crews scoured the waters in the moments and days following the crash, but debris and low visibility were hindrances to the mission. The search has involved over a dozen helicopters, 53 navy ships, 20 boats, and 2,600 rescue personnel. Since Sunday, dozens of bodies have been recovered as well as parts of the plane as deep as 75 feet underwater, CNN reported.
Crews also managed to recover the plane's flight-data recorder on Tuesday, according to the Wall Street Journal.
It was revealed last week that the plane had ceased operation in late March because air travel was severely reduced because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Journal reported.
Sriwijaya Air President Director Jefferson Irwin Jauwena told reporters the plane was airworthy and flew to Pontianak and Pangkal Pinang city on the same day, CBS reported.
"Maintenance report said everything went well and airworthy," Jauwena said at a news conference. Jauwena asserted that the crash was due to the poor weather conditions on the day of the flight.
Recordings and transcripts of the communication between the plane's pilot and air traffic controllers are also part of the investigation, investigator Nurcahyo Utomo told CBS.
The country has been plagued with several airline incidents. There have been 104 total civilian plane crashes, resulting in the killing of over 1,300 people since 1945, the AP reported citing data from the Aviation Safety Network.
Indonesian carriers were banned in the U.S. between 2007 and 2016 because they were “deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping or inspection procedures," the outlet reported. Similarly, the European Union had a ban from 2007 to 2018. However, improvements have been made including more frequent inspections, stricter regulation of facilities and procedures, and improved pilot training, Geoffrey Thomas, an aviation expert, told the outlet.