Indian embassy confirms death of Indian pilot Bhavye Suneja in Lion Air plane crash
Captain Bhavye Suneja, who has been working with Lion Air since 2011, and co-pilot Harvino together have accumulated 11,000 hours of flying time, Lion Air said, adding that the aircraft had been in operation since August and was airworthy.Updated: Oct 29, 2018 23:47 IST
Bhavye Suneja, the captain of the Indonesian plane that crashed soon after taking off from Jakarta this morning was killed in the accident, Indian embassy in Jakarta has confirmed. Lion Air said the brand-new aircraft JT610, on a 70-minute flight to Pangkal Pinang on an island chain off Sumatra, was carrying 181 passengers, including one child and two babies, and eight crew members.
Captain Suneja was a resident of Jakarta originally from New Delhi. He attended Ahlcon Public School in Mayur Vihar. According to his Linkedin profile, he was working at Lion Air since March 2011 and was also a trainee pilot with Emirates from September and December 2010.
Captain Suneja and co-pilot Harvino together had accumulated 11,000 hours of flying time, Lion Air said, adding that the aircraft had been in operation since August and was airworthy.
The aircraft, which had at least 23 government officials on board, had sought to turn back just before losing contact, an air navigation spokesman told Reuters.
Edward Sirait, chief executive of Lion Air Group, told reporters the aircraft had a technical problem on a flight from the resort island of Bali to Jakarta but it had been “resolved according to procedure”.
Indonesian TV broadcast pictures of a fuel slick and debris field. Distraught friends and relatives prayed and hugged each other as they waited at Pangkal Pinang’s airport.
The National Search and Rescue Agency’s deputy chief, Nugroho Budi Wiryanto, said some 300 people including soldiers, police and local fishermen are involved in the search and that so far it has recovered no bodies — only ID cards, personal belongings and aircraft debris.
”We are waiting for the miracle from God,” said Wiryanto, when asked if there’s any hope of survivors.
The head of Indonesia’s transport safety committee said he could not confirm the cause of the crash, which would have to wait until the recovery of the plane’s black boxes, as the cockpit voice recorder and data flight recorder are known.
”The plane is so modern, it transmits data from the plane, and that we will review too. But the most important is the blackbox,” said Soerjanto Tjahjono.
Safety experts say nearly all accidents are caused by a combination of factors and only rarely have a single identifiable cause.
The weather was clear, Tjahjono said.
Indonesia’s worst air disaster was in 1997, when a Garuda Indonesia A300 crashed in the city of Medan killing 214 people.
Founded in 1999, Lion Air’s only fatal accident was in 2004, when an MD-82 crashed upon landing at Solo City, killing 25 of the 163 on board, the Flight Safety Foundation’s Aviation Safety Network says.
In April, the airline announced a firm order to buy 50 Boeing 737 MAX 10 narrowbody jets with a list price of $6.24 billion. It is one of the U.S. planemaker’s largest customers globally.