On January 9, a plane leaving Jakarta is feared to have crashed in the ocean. The Boeing 737 plane was carrying 62 passengers. Witnesses say they heard an explosion, but the plane has not been found. (BBC). The aging plane flew during a heavy storm in a country with a long history of flight disasters. It had also been out of service for nine months. Indonesian Plane Went From No Flights to 132 in Less Than a Month

According to Indonesia’s Ministry of Transportation, Sriwijaya Air Flight 182, which plunged into the Java Sea on Saturday afternoon, killing all 62 passengers and crew members on board, had been in a hangar for most of last year after the coronavirus pandemic wiped out much of commercial flight. The effect such a hiatus may have had on the 26-year-old Boeing 737-500 is still unclear, but experts have warned that the continuing collapse of air travel could pose potential safety risks from mothballed planes. “There’s a major problem starting to raise its head in terms of restoring these aircraft because while out of service for nine or 10 months, they need to be kept operating, otherwise they deteriorate,” said Hugh Ritchie, chief executive of Aviation Analysts International, an Australian air safety consulting firm. Like most commercial airlines, Sriwijaya Air was forced to scale back operations in the pandemic. At one point it was down to operating just five of its 18 planes. The Boeing 737-500 that crashed was put in a hangar on March 23 and did not operate again until the end of the year, according to the Ministry of Transportation

After the plane resumed service last month, it was flown from storage in Surabaya to Jakarta, the capital, on Dec. 19. It resumed passenger service the next day, according to data from the tracking site Flightradar24. The plane had conducted 132 flights since it left storage. The readout of the flight data recorder will hopefully prove helpful in determining the cause. But treacherous weather conditions and wreckage scattered in mud roughly 75 feet under water made finding the devices difficult. The first recorder was recovered by divers moving large pieces of debris and digging by hand in the mud, said Adm. Yudo Margono, the chief of staff of the Indonesian Navy.Officials believe the location of the second black box — a cockpit voice recorder — has been pinpointed about 50 feet away from the flight data recorder that was recovered on Tuesday. The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team of four investigators from the United States to help look into the crash. The team will be joined by experts from the Federal Aviation Administration, General Electric and Boeing, the board said. Indonesia waived its coronavirus travel restrictions for the investigators.

By Amanda Alexander 09/01/2021

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