Indonesia's deadliest air crashes

People watch rescue team members on a boat heading to the Lion Air crash site off the coast of West Java, Indonesia, Oct 29, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (AFP) - The crash of a brand new Lion Air Boeing-737 MAX into the sea on Monday (Oct 29), just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, is the latest in a series of air accidents to rock the archipelago.

Indonesian relies heavily on air transport to connect its thousands of islands but has suffered a string of deadly plane crashes in recent years.

The aviation sector is expanding fast as the economy booms but there are concerns airlines are struggling to find enough well-trained personnel to keep up with the rapid growth.

Once banned from European airspace over safety fears, the EU removed all Indonesian airlines from its safety blacklist in 2018 following improvements.

Here are the worst aviation disasters in the nation's history:


The worst disaster in Indonesia's aviation history left 234 dead in 1997. An Airbus A-300B4 operated by national carrier Garuda Indonesia crashed in a smog-shrouded ravine in North Sumatra, just short of Medan's airport.


In 2014, an AirAsia plane plunged into the Java Sea during stormy weather, killing 162 people. The Malaysian airline was flying from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.


A Mandala Airlines domestic flight crashed shortly after take-off in 2005 into a densely populated suburb in Medan, a city of two million on the island of Sumatra, killing at least 150 including passengers, crew and people on the ground.


In June 2015 an Indonesian military plane crashed shortly after takeoff, also coming down in a residential area in Medan, killing around 122 people on board, many of them servicemen and women and their families.

Around 20 people were also killed on the ground and several housing blocks torn apart. The Armed Forces has been beleaguered by a string of fatal accidents in recent years.


In 1991, an Air Force plane crashed in East Jakarta minutes after take off when an engine caught fire, killing 135 people according to reports. Those who died included 121 airmen, 12 crew and two people on the ground. One passenger survived.


In 1997, a Silk Air flight crashed into a river near the Indonesian city of Palembang while on its way to Singapore from Jakarta. All 104 passengers and crew were killed in what was investigated as a possible pilot murder-suicide.


An Adam Air plane plunged into the sea off Sulawesi island on New Year's Day 2007, killing all 102 people on board. The airline was later banned from flying. Indonesian authorities said the pilots lost control after becoming preoccupied with malfunctioning navigational equipment.

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