The crash of flight JT610 claimed the lives of 189, of whom 181 were passengers and eight crew. Contact was lost with the aircraft (PK-LQP) 13 minutes after it departed Jakarta Soekarno-Hattabound for Pangkal Pinang. The crew had reported technical difficulties and sought to return to Jakarta before the crash.
In addition, this is the first major incident involving the Boeing 737 Max of jets. Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that there are were 219 Max 8s and 12 Max 9s in service prior to the Lion crash, of which 11 Max 8s were with Lion Air. In addition, Lion has 238 firm orders for the Max.
The Lion Air Group is a major customer for the type. In May 2017, Lion's Malaysian affiliate Malindo Air operated the the world's first 737 Max 8 service, with a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.
Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that Indonesia’s worst air disaster occurred on 26 September 1997, when an Airbus A300 operated by Garuda Indonesia crashed into a hill while on an instrument landing approach to Medan, killing all 234 aboard.
Indonesia’s third worst crash occurred on 28 December 2014, when an Indonesia AirAsia Airbus A320 (PK-AXC) crashed in the Karimata Strait while operating flight QZ801 on the Surabaya-Singapore route, killing all 162 aboard.
Investigators concluded that cracked solder joints on a circuit board were the main contributor to the fatal crash. This resulted in a series of technical issues. The crews’ response culminated in a sharp climb to 38,500ft, at which point the aircraft entered a stall from which there was no recovery.
Prior to the JT610 disaster, Lion itself has suffered 11 major accidents. Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that since 2002, the low-cost airline has suffered the total loss of five aircraft, five accidents that resulted in major damage, and one minor loss.
The most recent major incident occurred on 29 April 2018, when a Lion 737-800 (PK-LOO) suffered substantial damage when it made a runway excursion during a night landing at Gorontalo, North Sulawesi after operating a service from Makassar. None of the passengers or crew suffered injuries, and the aircraft is due to return to service in November.
The carrier’s last total loss was on 13 April 2013, when a 737-800 undershot the runway attempting to land at Denpasar, coming down in the sea just short of the runway. While the aircraft was a total loss, only four passengers suffered injuries.
Prior to JT610, Lion’s worst accident, and the only one that resulted in fatalities, occurred on 30 November 2004, when a McDonnell Douglas MD-80 (PK-LMN), landed long at Solo in darkness and heavy rain after a service from Jakarta. The aircraft overran the end of the runway 'at high speed', crossed a road and then struck a concrete plinth supporting part of the instrument landing system.
This disaster claimed the lives of 23 passengers and two crew, out of the 156 aboard the aircraft. In addition, 56 passengers suffered injuries.