Indonesian authorities inspect the black box of ill-fated Sriwijaya Air plane retrieved from the seabed north of Jakarta on Jan. 12, 2021. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Adimaja)

What We Know So Far About Sriwijaya Air Plane Crash


JANUARY 13, 2021

Jakarta. An Indonesian passenger plane flown by Sriwijaya Air plunged into the waters of Thousands Islands district shortly after takeoff from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten on Saturday. 

The Boeing 737-500 plane, en route to the West Kalimantan capital of Pontianak, carried 62 people including 12 cabin crews.

Here is what we know about the tragic incident of the Flight SJ-182:

Four People Identified


As of Wednesday morning, the police's disaster victim identification (DVI) team at the Said Soekanto Hospital in Kramat Jati has successfully identified four people killed in the crash via their fingerprints. They were Okky Bisma, Fadli Satrianto, Khasanah, and Asy Habul Yamin, police spokesman Rusdi Hartono said on Wednesday. 

According to Rusdi, the victims' families prefer to wait before being handed over the bodies because the search and identification process is still underway. The family members are still hoping the police can retrieve and identify the remaining body parts.

In total, the DVI team has obtained 112 DNA samples from the victims' family members. They have also received 137 body bags containing human remains and 35 property bags from the crash site.

Co-Pilot Fadli

Among the four identified bodies was co-pilot Fadli Satrianto.

"He was the 31st on the flight manifest and it turns out to be Sriwijaya Air's co-pilot. We have compared the fingerprints and this is what we got," Rusdi said.

The team compared Fadli's right index finger as registered in his electronic ID card with the retrieved body parts. They are identical on 12 points, he added.

No Mid-Air Explosion
The National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) on Tuesday dismissed a theory that the plane exploded mid-air, saying a broken fan blade still attached on its turbine disc has been found. 

In addition, the plane’s system continued to transmit data as it fell from an altitude of nearly 11,000 feet to as low as 250 feet, according to KNKT Chairman Soerjanto Tjahjono, citing findings from initial investigation.

“The damaged fan blade indicates that the engine was still functioning during the impact,” he said.

Black Box Retrieved
Indonesian navy rescue divers have retrieved the black box belonging to the crashed boeing between the Laki Island and Lancang Island on Tuesday.

A black box records flight information and this would be crucial to uncover what exactly caused the plane crash.

Beritasatu TV reported the divers found the black box at around 3 p.m. and carried it to the rigel warship. A sea rider is now taking the black box to the post in Jakarta International Container Terminal. There is still no further information whether the retrieved black box was a cockpit voice recorder (CVR) or a flight data recorder (FDR).

Frogmans from Commander of the Navy
Elite members of the Indonesian Navy coordinate actions in the middle of the Java Sea, north of Jakarta on January 12, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Last Video from Passenger Cabin
Plane passenger Rusni uploaded a video on her social media just a few moments before the takeoff, local media Detik reported. The 19-second video captures the rain outside the plane and passengers were already in their seats. Next to Rusni was her husband Supianto with their two-years-old daughter, Abida Dania, on the father's lap.

"The video, titled 'Jakarta Hujan' (Rain in Jakarta) was shared on her Facebook and to the close family members," Rusni's brother Mustafa told Detik on Monday.

According to Mustafa, Rusni was visiting Pontianak to meet her in-laws. It would also have been Rusni's first time in the city after tying the knot. 

A Couple on Fake IDs
Couple Shelfie Ndaro and Felix Wenggo allegedly used fake IDs to get on the Sriwijaya flight. 

Shelfie used an ID card belonging to work colleague Sarah Beatrice Alomau. Whilst Felix got on the plane as his nephew Teofilus Lau Ura, or also known as Teo.

Beatrice's attorney J Richard Riwoe told Beritasatu -- Jakarta Globe's sister publication -- his client was never on the ill-fated flight. Beatrice only learnt her name was on the flight manifest after family members tried contacting her. She also still holds her ID card to this day.

"Beatrice never gave her identity (be it ID card or other documents)," Richard said.

"The problem here is that Sriwijaya Air allowed Shelfie to fly without presenting real proof of identity," he added.

According to Richard, both Beatrice and Shelfie came from East Nusa Tenggara and worked at a rice wrapper factory in Tangerang. Shelfie had also mentioned her plan to go to Pontianak with Felix a few days earlier. But Beatrice was never aware that Shelfie was on the flight using her identity.

Benekditus Beke, a relative to Felix, confirmed the latter had borrowed nephew Teo's ID card.

"Teo admitted Felix had borrowed and photocopied his ID card for a swab test and bought a Sriwijaya Air plane ticket to Pontianak with his wife-to-be Shelfie," Beke said.

Beke claimed the couple did not have an ill intent when flying with a fake ID card. Both had become unemployed due to the pandemic and wanted to find a job in Pontianak.

"They were possibly desperate [to fake their ID] to fly to Pontianak because they needed money for the wedding," he said.

The Soekarno-Hatta International Airport's Port Health Office is still unable to confirm whether the victims have presented their real proof of identity when submitting the swab test result prior to departure.

"Typically, a passenger must first present their swab test result and proof of identity. But we still don't know the condition at the time. We wil cross-check with the officers that were on duty," the port health office's head Darmawali Handoko said.

Sriwijaya Air has yet to give a statement regarding the suspected use of fake IDs.

A 26-Year Old Boeing
The plane in question was a Boeing 737-524 manufactured in 1994. Sriwijaya first acquired the aircraft in 2012. But KNKT said the age of an aircraft should not have been a problem with proper maintenance.

"No matter what the age [of the plane] is, as long as its maintenance follows the Transportation Ministry's Air Transportation regulations, there should not have been an issue," KNKT chief Soerjanto Tjahjono said at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Saturday.

Sriwijaya Air president director Irwin Jauwena claimed the 26 year-old aircraft was in a good condition, because it had previously flown to Pontianak and Pangkal Pinang. Everything has also gone well based on the maintenance report.

62 People on Board
The aircraft, with the SJ182 call sign, carried 62 people on board, including 12 crews, 40 adults, 7 children, and 3 infants. West Kalimantan Governor Sutarmidji told local news outlet Antara that they were mostly residents of West Kalimantan. KNKT also confirmed no foreign nationals were on board.

Alter Course 
The plane went off the radar just four minutes after the takeoff.

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said the plane departed from Soekarno Hatta International Airport at 2.36 p.m. Western Indonesia Time on Saturday. At 2.37 p.m, the plane flew at an altitude of 1,200 feet and was allowed to rise to 29,000 feet by following the standard departure protocol.

"At 2.40 p.m., an air traffic officer in Jakarta saw that Sriwijaya Air was not in the direction it should have been at 075 degrees, but steered northwest. When asked to report, Sriwijaya Air SJ-182 disappeared from the radar within seconds," Budi Karya said. 

Swedish internet-based flight tracker Flightradar shows the plane lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude under a minute, suggesting a free fall. Witnesses near Laki Island, one of the islands in the Thousand Islands district, told local media that they heard two loud bangs on Saturday. 

Crisis Center
Sriwijaya Air has set up a crisis center at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport's Arrival Terminal 2D to inform the family members the latest update on the search. Relatives can also contact the hotline 021-8063 7816 and 021-8063 7817.

Family of Sriwijaya Air crash victim gather in Sriwijaya Air Crisis Center in Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten on Saturday (09/01). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Relatives of victims in the Srwijaya Air ill-fated SJ-182 flight arrive at the alirliners' crisis center at Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten on Jan. 9, 2021. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

In addition, the police have asked family members to submit passengers' data at the postmortem and antemortem post at the Said Soekanto Police Hospital in Kramat Jati, East Jakarta. The police will collect all information that can help identify the victims, including medical history and DNA for comparison.

"Two bags have been sent to the Kramat Jati Hospital. They have been worked on and identified. One of them contains body parts and the other contains personal effects of the victims," Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus said on Sunday.

Immediate Search
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instructed Minister Budi Karya and the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) Head Bagus Puruhito to conduct an immediate search and rescue operation.

"Yesterday evening, I have ordered Transportation Minister, Basarnas Head, with the help of the Indonesian military and police, to immediately conduct a search and rescue for the victims. We are doing our best to find and save them," Jokowi said in a video message on Sunday.

The president instructed KNKT to hold a further investigation on the disaster. In the video, Jokowi also offered his deepest condolences.

Body Remains, Debris Retrieved
The search for plane wreckage and human remains continue at the crash site.

Indonesian Military Commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said on Sunday a navy ship has detected a signal coming from the plane. The Navy's special divers team have recovered a life vest jacket and parts of the plane wreckage at 23 meters below the sea surface.

KNKT has deployed a team on a Baruna Jaya IV ship belonging to the Technology Assessment and Application Technology (BPPT). The ship can detect objects underwater and signals from two black box types, namely the CVR and FDR.

Antara also reported at around 9.40 a.m. on Sunday, the divers discovered body parts from underwater at the depths of 17-20 meters. The human remains were mixed with the debris.

The story has been updated with recent developments.