Accidents in aviation are getting less common by the day with increasing safety standards and technologies. However, they are still not over as there are other reasons for accidents such as human error and negligence. Sriwijaya Air Flight 182’s crash is a recent and unfortunate outcome of negligence.
Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight from Jakarta to Pontianak, Indonesia. The aircraft Boeing 737-500 registered as PK-CLC departed from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on 9 January 2021 and shortly after its departure, it experienced an upset, meaning it was outside of its physical limitations. The upset caused the plane to crash into the Java Sea and resulted in the death of all 62 people on board. Out of the 62, 50 were passengers, 6 were crew and the remaining 6 were deadheading crew.
The first report of the crash came in at 14:30 local time by a fisherman who reported that an aircraft crashed and exploded in the sea. The crash area was just 20 kilometers away from the airport which the plane departed from. The National Transportation Safety Committee started an investigation with the help of United States’ National Transportation Safety Board. A spokeswoman of the NTSC reported of an abnormality that was noticed during the flight. During the initial climb, the aircraft went off course to the northwest. Air Traffic Controller asked the flight crew about the deviation but could not get a response. Seconds later the aircraft was off the radar.
Sources outside the NTSC reported that the aircraft suffered from an autothrottle problem for at least a month. The autothrottle was said to produce more thrust in one engine than the other. It was later revealed that this malfunction of the autothrottle had been reported several days before the flight. Flight data recorder data showed that the autothrottle also malfunctioned on January 9, the day of the flight. The malfunction meant that the left engine thrust lever continued to decrease while the right engine thrust lever remained in place. This resulted in an upset. The aircraft rolled to the left with a 45-degree bank angle after the autopilot was disengaged.
In response to the accident, the state’s insurance company Jasa Raharja announced that it would compensate the relatives of the passengers and crew members aboard the flight. Each next-of-kin of the deceased would be compensated 3,500 US dollars. While we remember this accident as a tragedy, we must also be reminded of the severity of aviation safety.