More than 60 passengers were on Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 from Jakarta, Indonesia to Pontianak, Indonesia, when it crashed into the ocean shortly after takeoff on Saturday, January 9, 2021.  For unknown reasons, 4 minutes after takeoff in heavy rain the aircraft rapidly dropped more than 10,000 feet in less than a minute, going into the ocean approximately 12 miles from Jakarta.

The flight was scheduled for 90 minutes and was planned to fly north across the Java Sea to Borneo Island, where Pontianak is located on its west coast. Minutes after takeoff, as it ascended through 10,000 feet, its speed reached 329mph. At 10,500 feet the climb stopped, and it rapidly descended to the ocean, according to information obtained from FlightAware.

The aircraft was a Boeing 737 manufactured in Washington State, U.S. The aircraft is not a 737 Max, which was grounded from March, 2019 until December, 2020 after two deadly crashes due to a faulty anti-stall system. While the safety record of Indonesian air carriers, especially start-up low cost carriers, has been criticized for years, due to accidents and safety concerns, this is the first fatal accident for Sriwijaya Air, which started flying in 2003, and is Indonesia’s third-largest carrier. Aviation Law Group PS is located in Seattle, Washington, within miles of where Boeing manufactures its 737 line of aircraft. 

Aviation Law Group attorney Chris Rusing, who has many years of flying as an airline captain, thinks that the crash of Flight 182 is highly unusual under the circumstances.  

“The cruise-climb phase of flight is most unlikely to have problems, and certainly not catastrophic problems. Most in-flight safety issues and failures occur during the more challenging phases of flight, which are take-off and landing. Heavy rain should not bring down an aircraft, and certainly not an aircraft at 10,000 feet.”

Chris Rusing, J.d., ATP

Chris looks forward to reviewing the information from the flight data recorders (FDR) and cockpit voice recorders (CVR) once available. “This critical information will help tremendously in determining the cause of this most unfortunate accident.”