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Airplane crashes in water off Bali, no fatalities (+video)

A Lion Air Boeing 737 crash landed short of the runway in Bali, Indonesia. All 101 passengers and seven crew members were rescued alive Saturday within minutes. But dozens were taken to the hospital. Why did a new Boeing 737-800 crash?

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So why did the aircraft crash-land short of the runway? It's too soon to say. Investigators will be looking at the black box, the data recorder, for information about the last minutes of the flight and will be questioning the flight crew.  The weather was cloudy with a light rain at the time of the crash. There were no indications of thunderstorms or wind turbulence that might cause the plane to suddenly plummet just short of the runway.

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In some cases in the past, when aircraft landed short of the runway, the causes were engine problems, and possible pilot error in response.

In 1989, a  British Midland Airways Boeing 737-400 crashed short of the runway, killing 47 passengers. The two-engine aircraft had trouble in the No. 1 engine when a fan blade fractured, but the crew mistakenly shut down the No. 2 engine. The No. 1 engine continued operating, but upon approach to the airport, they lost that engine too. The accident report blamed the crash on the incorrect response by the flight crew to the malfunctioning No. 1 engine.

In 2008, a British Airways Boeing 777 crashed short of the runway at Heathrow after a 5,000-mile flight from Beijing, reported the BBC. The cause of the crash was later determined to be a loss of both engines due to a buildup of ice that restricted fuel flow, according to the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). There were no fatalities in the crash.  Boeing identified the problem as specific to the Rolls-Royce engine fuel-oil heat exchangers, and Rolls-Royce developed a modification that European authorities required to be made on Rolls-Royce engines by January 2011. Boeing noted that the 777 fitted with GE and Pratt & Whitney engines had not experienced similar problems.

Lion Air, a discount air carrier, started operating in 2000 and has rapidly expanded to become Indonesia's largest private commercial airline.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that "Lion Air has had five crashes and major incidents in recent years. One of those crashes, in 2004, claimed the lives of 25 people. However its safety record has come under attack, with both the US and European Union banning the airline from its skies because it has failed to pass the required internationally recognized safety audit."

The airline had been sanctioned in January 2013 because some pilots and crew had been caught with crystal meth. "We have reprimanded the airline and revoked the license of the pilots and crew," the ministry's air transportation director general, Herry Bhakti Gumay, told The Jakarta Post.


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