AirAsia Flight 8501 Crash Highlights Booming Indonesia Airline Industry’s Safety …

31 Dec 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

AirAsia Flight 8501 Crash Highlights Booming Indonesia Airline Industry’s Safety Issues.

JAKARTA, Indonesia — When a team of United Nations auditors visited Jakarta in May to rate the country’s aviation safety, they came to a troubling conclusion: Indonesia was well below the global average in every category, and scored just 61 percent in airworthiness.INDONESIA’S National Search and Rescue Agency chief confirmed that just three bodies have been recovered so far in the search for the AirAsia plane which crashed in the Java Sea, after another official said 40 had been found. “Today we evacuated three bodies and they are now in the warship Bung Tomo,” Bambang Soelistyo told a news conference in Jakarta, adding that they were two women and a man.

The audit reinforced the fact that Indonesia, which scored far worse than impoverished neighbors such as Laos and Myanmar, has a chronic problem with aviation safety. Rescuers believe they have found the plane on the sea floor off Borneo, after sonar detected a large, dark object beneath waters near where debris and bodies were found on the surface. But instead of greeting her relatives at the airport, she returned home Sunday to Surabaya, Indonesia, to seek any word about the fate of AirAsia Flight 8501, praying that they had somehow survived. Families who lost loved ones aboard the jetliner endured another excruciating day of waiting Wednesday as bad weather hindered efforts to recover any more bodies and sent wreckage drifting far from the crash site. “Help us, God, to move forward, even though we are surrounded by darkness,” the Rev.

Conditions are less than ideal, with thunderstorms in the area creating rough seas, with reports at least six inches of rain are expected to be dumped throughout the night. But in a country of 17,000 islands, where cheap flights are replacing the ferry journeys that Indonesians use to take across the archipelago, the chances of dying on an Indonesian plane, while rare, are unacceptably high, experts say. After two days of searching, debris from parts of the aircraft, including an emergency exit door, luggage, oxygen tack and a life jacket, were found in the Karimata Straight between Sumatra, Java and Borneo, around 110 nautical miles south west from Pangkalan Bun. Arnold Barnett, a statistician at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specializes in airline safety, said that the death rate in airplane crashes over the past decade in Indonesia was one per million passengers who boarded. Authorities in Surabaya were making preparations to receive and identify bodies, including arranging 130 ambulances to take victims to a police hospital and collecting DNA from relatives.

Relatives, many of whom collapsed in grief when they saw the first grim television pictures confirming their fears on Tuesday, held prayers at a crisis centre at Surabaya airport. A source close to the probe into what happened said that radar data appeared to show that AirAsia Flight QZ8501 made an “unbelievably“ steep climb before it crashed, possibly pushing it beyond the Airbus A320‘s limits. “So far, the numbers taken by the radar are unbelievably high. A Chinese frigate was also on the way, while Singapore said it was sending two underwater beacon detectors to try to detect pings from the plane’s all-important cockpit voice and flight data recorders. Flying in stormy conditions around 40 minutes after takeoff from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, on a quick hop to Singapore, the pilot requested permission to change course.

Ground controllers granted the request to veer left but denied the request to ascend to a higher altitude, which was reserved for another AirAsia aircraft. Pandemonium broke out at Juanda International Airport, at least two distraught family members were carried out on stretchers from the room where they had been waiting for news in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city and the takeoff point for the aircraft that disappeared during a storm on Sunday. Three airline disasters involving Malaysian-affiliated carriers in less than a year have dented confidence in the country‘s aviation industry and spooked travellers. Our sympathies also go out to the families of our dear colleagues.” Meanwhile AirAsia’s Group Executive Officer, Tony Fernandes added he was “absolutely devastated” amid news he was “rushing” to Surabaya to be among the grieving families.

The AirAsia group, including affiliates in Thailand, the Philippines and India, had not suffered a crash since its Malaysian budget operations began in 2002. When the first bodies appeared off the coast of Kalimantan on Tuesday afternoon, two and a half days after the plane disappeared, mothers, wives, aunts and cousins wailed in grief.

Adrian’s grandfather, John Gonimasala, 70, a retired general goods trader from the Moluccan islands, held open his palms. “Disasters are God’s will,” he said. “I know they’re gone.” Like most of the passengers, the Gonimasalas were members of Indonesia’s emerging middle class, en route to Singapore for post-Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Many were among the first generation in their family who could afford such a luxury, avatars of a demographic shift that has produced an airline boom in Indonesia. With a population of 250 million people, Indonesia is one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for commercial jets, with more than 600 planes on order. I surrender all,” they repeated. “I surrender all to God our savior.” Many family members had planned to travel to Pangkalan Bun, 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the area where bodies were first spotted, to start identifying their loved ones.

It has a reputation for weak airline safety practices, a shortage of experienced pilots, lots of mountains that get in the way of low-flying planes, and rapidly rising air travel as the economy booms. However, the manager of the Surabaya airport, Trikora Hardjo, later said the trip was canceled after authorities suggested their presence could slow down the operation.

It was 13-year-old Adrian Fernando’s first trip to the city-state on what was supposed to be a fun vacation with his aunt, uncle and cousin before school resumed. “He is my only son,” said his emotional mother, Linca Gonimasela, who could not accompany him because she had to work. “At first, he didn’t want to go. But later on, he was persuaded to join them for the New Year’s holiday.” A number of Indonesian cities have opted to cancel or tone down New Year’s Eve celebrations. That ban used to include the Indonesian subsidiary of AirAsia, but the European Union has cleared Garuda, Indonesia AirAsia and a few other carriers over the last several years as they have worked to improve safety. Because Indonesia bars airlines with majority foreign ownership from operating domestic routes, AirAsia entered the market by acquiring a stake in a small Indonesian carrier, Awair, then changed the name, replaced senior management and bankrolled rapid expansion.

Peter Marosszeky, a senior aviation research fellow at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, said that it was too early to conclude that the AirAsia crash was the result of a mistake by either the Indonesian authorities or the Indonesian pilot of the lost plane. With an economy that has been steadily growing nearly 6 percent a year, Indonesia is investing heavily to improve and expand its airports and provide them with the latest equipment. Pilot shortages are especially acute in developing countries, as affluent carriers in industrialized countries tend to hire away the most experienced, best trained pilots around the world. But growing reliance on unmanned drones has reduced the pipeline of military pilots just as the Asian air market has taken off, with its many long-haul routes requiring large numbers of pilots.

The Indonesian agency responsible for regulating airlines, a division of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, “is understaffed, not terribly well run and under-resourced,” said Roger Mulberge, a former commercial pilot and aviation safety consultant based in Bangkok. “They’re doing their best, but they’re trying to make bricks without straw.” “The most hurtful is the uncertainty,” said the Rev.

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