TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The head of the National Transportation Safety Commission (KNKT), Soerjanto Tjahyono, said that prior to its disappearance Lion Air JT 610 that was en route to Pangkal Pinang requested to return to base (RTB) just 3 minutes after taking off from Soekarno-Hatta Airport.
“That was at the altitude of 2,000-3,000 feet,” Soerjanto told Tempo after holding a press conference at the Soekarno-Hatta Crisis Center on Monday, October 29.
According to Soerjanto, the RTB request was followed-up on by Soekarno-Hatta’s air traffic control (ATC). However, just eight minutes after the request, the airport ATC lost contact with Lion Air JT 610 at 06:31, which took off exactly at 6:22.
“The cause of the RTB is still being investigated,” said Soerjanto. This request, which usually signals an ongoing issue, was confirmed by Soekarno-Hatta Airport’s chief of authority Bagus Sunjoyo today.
Bagus explained the Lion Air pilot’s RTB request was approved by the airport ATC but the reason remained unknown. The KNKT is currently trying to retrieve the plane’s black boxes that are predicted to be submerged 30 meters underneath the Tanjung Karawang waters.