Bhavye Suneja was flying the Lion Air flight JT610 which lost contact with ground officials
Still trying to gather his bearings from the shock, a friend and former colleague of Bhavye Suneja, who died in the Lion Air plane crash in Indonesia, Tuesday described him as a great pilot.
Captain Karanvir Chauhan, who worked with Suneja from 2011 to 2016 in Indonesia, said the 31-year-old had sound knowledge and understanding of the machine and aircraft.
"He was a jolly person, someone who always tried to make the situation happy. In short, a happy go lucky man… He knew his books and there were times when we would consult him if faced with doubts," Mr Chauhan told PTI over phone from Dubai.
Mr Suneja had over 6,000 hours of flying experience by now, he said, recalling the times they spent together on the Boeing 737.
Mr Chauhan, 30, who left Jakarta two years ago for Dubai, said the two had a great bonding which continued even after their marriages.
Mr Suneja was flying the Lion Air flight JT610 which lost contact with ground officials, 13 minutes after taking off from an airport in Indonesia, and crashed into the Java Sea Monday. The plane had 189 passengers and crew aboard and no survivors were expected.
"We were shocked and could not believe my eyes when I saw the news. I got several calls and messages…I got worried and re-checked the news and could not believe (it)," Mr Chauhan said.
He recalled how Mr Suneja loved food and would not hold back even to cook for others.
"He was good with food. I even spent my last evening in Indonesia with him when he opened a champagne especially for me," the pilot said.
Mr Suneja, a resident of Delhi, had completed his studies at the Ahlcon Public School in Mayur Vihar and then received his flying licence in 2009. His father Gulshan Suneja is a chartered accountant and his mother, Sangeeta, works with the Air India.
He got married in 2016 and was based in Jakarta with his wife Garima Sethi, a former manager at the Indian Express.
Bhavye's younger sister, Ruhaani, aspired to become a pilot, just like her brother, according to his neighbours.
Meanwhile, the Lion Air said in a statement that the evacuation of all passengers, crew and flight JT610 that was crashed on Monday in the sea of Karawang, West Jawa was ongoing.
"The airline is very concerned about the incident and will continue to render their co-operations to all parties concerned to provide first-hand information which relates to the status of affected passengers and crew.
"It is with the hope that the families of the passengers and crew will have the strength and fortitude to go through this challenging time and the Search and Rescue (SAR) officers' operations to go smoothly," it said.