Indian pilot Bhavye Suneja dead in Indonesian plane crash

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Families are turning up at Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency headquarters in Jakarta for word of their loved ones.

The flight JT610 en-route to Pangkalpinang crashed near Kerawang, 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta Soekarno Hatta International Airport.

A spokesman from the airline said the Boeing 737 MAX plane was manufactured in 2018 and has been operated by Lion Air since Aug 15.

Deryl Fida Febrianto sent the picture at 6.01am shortly before flight JT-610, carrying 189 people, set off from Jakarta and plunged 5,000ft into the Java Sea off Indonesia.

The jet was a Boeing 737 MAX 8, which can carry up to 200 passengers.

As per his Linkedin profile, Suneja got his pilot license from Bel Air International in 2009 and worked as a trainee with Emirates before joining Lion Air in March 2011 where he flied the Boeing 737. The agency also said that a tug boat leaving the capital's port witnessed the plane crash into the water.

The country's carriers have in the past faced years-long bans from entering European Union and USA airspace over their safety records.

An Indonesian passenger plane carrying 189 people crashed into the ocean on Monday, authorities said.

A commercial plane which plummeted into the Java sea with nearly 200 people onboard was delivered brand new to budget airline Lion Air just weeks ago.

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The search and rescue agency said the flight ended in waters off West Java that are 30 to 35 meters (98 to 115 feet) deep.

The Lion Air jet that crashed was fit for operations, the airline said in a statement.

Lion Air said there were two foreigners on the plane: one of the pilots, Indian national Bhavye Suneja, and an Italian citizen.

"We hope, we pray, but we can not confirm", He said, adding that no distress signal had been heard from the plane's emergency transmitter.

Novie Riyanto, the head of AirNav, which manages air traffic in Indonesia, said the pilot made a "RTB" or return to base request "just two or three minutes after it took off and the ATC has approved".

On Facebook there are photos of him in his Lion Air uniform, smiling. "That's something we only see on TV news, now it happened to my son", Nurbana said. Weather conditions were normal but the brand new aircraft had experienced a technical issue on its previous flight.

The Boeing 737, owned by the low-priced airline Lion Air, went down after taking off from the capital Jakarta.

The European Union barred Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe in 2007 over to safety concerns.