The crash of a Boeing plane in Indonesia was unlikely the result of a design flaw: Expert

indonesia plane cras
Indonesian soldiers are seen at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport after Sriwijaya Air plane lost contact after taking off, in Tangerang, near Jakarta, Indonesia, on January 9, 2021.

  • A Boeing plane in Indonesia is believed to have crashed into the Java Sea on Saturday.
  • The 26-year-old plan was a Boeing 737-500 and part of the “Classic” 737 series which finished production in 1999.
  • While the cause of the crash is still under investigation, Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at Teal Group, doesn’t believe it was the result of a design flaw. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On Saturday, a Boeing plane carrying 62 passengers disappeared minutes after take off and authorities say it is assumed to have crashed into the Java Sea.

The Indonesian Sriwijaya Air flight #SJ182 took off from Jakarta, Indonesia and was carrying 50 passengers and 12 crew members.

According to the flight tracker website FlightRadar24, the plane lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in under a minute. A local fisherman told BBC that he witnessed the crash saying “The plane fell like lightning into the sea and exploded in the water.”  Some debris from the plane has been found in the water, according to Indonesian media reports. 

The plane was a 26-year-old Boeing 737-500, part of the “Classic” 737 series which finished production in 1999. The cause of the crash is unclar.

Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at Teal Group, doesn’t believe the crash was a the result of a design flaw with the model. 

“This is not even the model before the Max, it has been in service for 30 years so it’s unlikely to be a design fault,” he told Bloomberg. “Thousands of these planes have been built and production ended over 20 years ago, so something would have been discovered by now.”

In an email to Insider, Aboulafia said that while 26-years of service exceeds the typical retirement age of many planes, it’s not unusual for an aircraft that old to be flying.

“And it would be totally safe assuming the correct maintenance procedures were in place and enforced by local regulators,” he wrote.

The suspected crash comes amid a few tough few years for Boeing.

In October 2018 and in March 2019, two Boeing 737 Max model planes crashed, killing a total of 364 people. The plane was ordered ground around the world while regulators and Boeing worked to fix what appeared to be a fundamental design flaw with the model. At the end of 2020, following intense investigations, the Federal Aviation Administration cleared the 737 Max to fly again.

This week, Boeing agreed to pay a$2.5 billion criminal penalty to settle charges of fraud conspiracy related to its 737 Max scandal. 

Boeing CEO David Calhoun said the resolution was the right choice for the company. “This resolution is a serious reminder to all of us hw critical our obligation of transparency to regulators is, and the consequences that our company can face if any of us falls short of those expectations.”

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