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Indonesia's transport ministry orders removal of Lion Air technical director after deadly crash

Indonesia's transport ministry orders removal of Lion Air technical director after deadly crash

Investigators examine parts of Lion Air Flight 610 retrieved from the waters off Tanjung Priok in Jakarta, Indonesia on Oct 31, 2018. (Photo: AP/Tatan Syuflana)

JAKARTA: Lion Air has removed its technical director Muhammad Asif following an order from Indonesia's transport ministry in the wake of a deadly plane crash, the airline said on Wednesday (Oct 31).

All 189 people on board flight JT610 are believed to have died after the Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed into the sea shortly after take-off from Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Monday. 

The flight was headed for Pangkal Pinang, on Bangka island, about 400km away. 

"Today we will remove Lion Air's technical director from his duties," the airline said in the statement.

The statement added that Muhammad Rusli will execute the role of the technical director in the meantime until further notice. It was not clear whether the removal is permanent or temporary.

The Transport Ministry later clarified that Muhammad Asif has been removed from duty until investigations are completed, and may return if found to be free from fault. 

State news agency Antara also added that several of the technicians were also relieved of their duties.

Indonesia's transport minister ordered an inspection of all Boeing 737-MAX aircraft on Tuesday. 

Lion Air managing director Daniel Putut said the airline had "many questions" for the Chicago-based company and they would discuss the delivery of remaining aircraft 737-MAX models, Indonesian news website reported.

Lion Air, Indonesia's biggest budget airline which has been engaged in huge expansion, announced earlier this year it was buying 50 Boeing-737 MAX 10 jets for US$6.24 billion. 

Founded in 1999, Lion Air capitalised on a boom in Indonesia's aviation industry, but has been plagued by safety woes and complaints over unreliable scheduling and poor service.

It has been involved in a number of incidents including a fatal 2004 crash and a collision between two Lion Air planes at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

In April 2013, a Lion Air Boeing 737 missed the runway at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport and landed in the sea. There were no fatalities among the 101 passengers and seven crew members on board the flight from Bandung.

In 2007, Lion Air was among a number of Indonesian airlines banned by the EU for lax safety standards. The ban was progressively lifted, starting in 2009.

Source: AGENCIES/ec/aa(rw)


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