The Australian Government has ordered officials and contractors not to fly on Indonesian carrier Lion Air until an investigation into a fatal crash involving the low cost carrier is completed.
Lion Air flight JT610 had left Jakarta bound for the town of Pangkal Pinang when it crashed into the ocean off Indonesia shortly after take-off. It is feared all on board - 189 people including crew - died in the incident, which occurred early yesterday (Monday).
“Following the fatal crash of a #LionAir plane on 29 October 2018, Australian government officials & contractors have been instructed not to fly on Lion Air. This decision will be reviewed when the findings of the crash investigation are clear,” the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on its Smartraveller website.
Whilst not issued to the public, the government’s warning extends to subsidiaries of the Lion Air Group, including Malindo Air and Batik Air, both of whom fly to Australia.
Batik Air launched flights between Perth and Bali in June last year, while Malindo Air commenced services between Brisbane and Bali in March 2017.
Malindo Air also flies between Perth and Kuala Lumpur and had earmarked a new service for Melbourne to Denpasar and possibly Sydney services. Wings Air and Thai Lion Air are among the other subsidiaries of Lion Air Group.
According to the ABC, the crashed Lion Air plane, a new Boeing 737 MAX 8, had experienced a ‘technical issue’ on its previous flight from Bali to Jakarta.
Citing the BBC, it was reported that a technical log from that flight revealed the jet had experienced problems with "unreliable" instruments that forced the pilot to hand over to the first officer.
But the airline said the plane had been certified airworthy before yesterday’s flight by an engineer who specializes in Boeing jets.
Lion Air CEO Edward Sirait said the plane issue had been “resolved according to procedure”.
"We don't dare to say what the facts are, or are not, yet," he said. "We are also confused about the why, since it was a new plane."
According to the ABC, Lion Air has had more than a dozen accidents in its nearly 20-year history, but none since 2004.
Yesterday’s accident has also cast the spotlight on aviation safety in Indonesia, which has a history of serious incidents.
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