View Full Version : Indonesian airline troubles (again)?

Cameron Bates
8th Jul 2008, 07:39
Greetings. Sorry to disturb. I am a lowly journalist trying to work out if what I was told over the weekend is true or not. I will ring the airline involved at a later point.I was told over the weekend by a bloke with one or two beers in him – he works in the aviation industry BTW – that Indonesia’s Merpati Nusantara Airlines (as with all Indonesian airlines is banned from flying into Europe) has had a number of recent close(ish) calls flying out of Sorong Airport in the Bird’s Head region of Indonesian Papua. Specifically, he alleged, an engine on a 737 blew or failed on take-off and the plane was forced to fly to Baik Island for an emergency landing. Apparently, Sorong Airport is too short to land at with just one engine and the airport has poor emergency services.(I am confused here; apparently the plane was headed to Makassar but ended up doubling back and landing at Biak’s Frans Kaisiepo Airport. I don’t know why this would be.)The guy claimed this has occurred on as many as three separate occasions but Merpati has failed to report any of the incidents to the relevant authorities. He was not able to provide any greater detail.It is no secret Indonesia’s aviation industry is something of a … well … joke, but this seems to be another unwelcome development—Merpati has a relatively unblemished recent history as when compared to the likes of Garuda and Adam Air.Anyway, if any forum members are able to shed any light on any of the above (or dispel it), I would appreciate it. Again, sorry to trouble.

8th Jul 2008, 08:14

I would like to see you focus your article on the fact that fuel prices and taxes are killing the airline industry worldwide. The carriers you cited already have labor cut to the bone, if JetA goes up any more, we're all going to be rowing boats to get around. New engines cost money. They are a distant memory since the oil cartels of the world won't cut out their predatory pricing oligopolies. Exxon alone made over 40 billion dollars Profit in 2007.

Agencies like the NTSB rate safety on a formula called "deaths per seat mile." Even the carriers you cited are 100 times safer, on a per mile basis, than riding in your car. Much, much safer than the shaky alternative of ferry transport.

If you consider those truths in your article, I might even buy a subscription or two.


8th Jul 2008, 12:50
OK, there's been 2 incidents in Sorong for Merpati in June.
14Jun... a hydraulic problem occured on landing at Sorong, and had to have maintenance done and took a bit longer than usual because there are no maintenance capability at Sorong. The plane diverted to Biak earlier due to weather.

On 1st of June, MZ807 SOQ-UPG diverted to BIK with 93 pax. 20 mins after departure, they noticed engine problems, and diverted to BIK... It's shorted from SOQ to BIK (1h comparing with 2h15 to UPG). The only suitable emergency alternate enroute for the route is Ambon, but it's definitely not a nice place to stay. Manado would involve a 1h15 over water with only a 1800m between Sorong and Manado. To pick BIK was a no brainer... shorter overwater stretch... albeit doubling back.

Sorong is 2000m meters, the aircraft was probably loaded with full pax no cargo and 2hrs of enroute fuel (+ holding and a 1H15 alternate).

The whole thing, as far as I know, was reported to the authorities but that's not for the complainer to know... especially if it was a pax.
If the person informing you was Fernandus(Feri) Taa (a provincial parliament staff/member), take it with a pinch of salt, he was on both flights. But after dealing with people from the local government/legislature there, I would rather ignore their whining, coz no matter if you give out the facts, it'll fall on deaf ears. Just my opinion.

These are the same people who would whine if you divert due to weather shouting at the pilot "you chicken, you have no guts, you have all the equipment but you cannot land in rain?" and would say "good pilots" when landing below minima! (story thanks to a past interchange with an airport staff".

Cameron Bates
10th Jul 2008, 07:43
Thanks for the information.I have since tracked down a story published in Indonesian in Radar Sorong Online. It seems a dozen or so of the passengers were so traumatised by the incident that they opted to return to Sarong from Baik by ship. (Whether this is true or not remains to be seen.)Anyway, does an engine failure qualify as which of the following events? (Other than the first one obviously.)FA=Fatal AccidentNFA=Non Fatal AccidentSI=Serious IncidentLI=Light IncidentEOC=Event of ConcernNE=Non-Event.Oh, and would an incident like this have any outcome on the EU's current hearings to determine if Indonesian carriers can operate in Europe?Thanks again.

11th Jul 2008, 08:06

Unfortunately, you are only addressing the symptoms and not the root cause of the significant problems in the Indonesian aviation system.

The incidents quoted in this lead would have no influence on the European Commission’s decision to extend its ban on Indonesian airlines from operating in European airspace.

On 2 July 2007 - at the Strategic Aviation Safety Summit in Bali- in a widely published “groundbreaking declaration” between ICAO and the Indonesian Government, the latter committed itself to prompt and wide-ranging action for improving the safety of its civil aviation system.

Indonesia agreed to IMPLEMENT a proactive and systemic management of safety to comply with ICAO international safety standards and industry best practices including;
(1) implementation of a safety programme in accordance with the new provisions of ICAO Annexes 6, 11 and 14 and establishment of acceptable levels of safety/indicators/targets;
(2) implementation of safety management systems (SMS) by airport operators, airlines and air navigation services providers.

Sadly, in the “Visit Indonesia Year 2008” there was little or no action and NONE of these basic aviation safety requirement “commitments” have been implemented yet.

The Indonesian Government has to realise that aviation SAFETY is not negotiable.

What both the EU and ICAO are looking for in Indonesia is practical evidence that the safety oversight capability of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has indeed been strengthened and that the safety programme as well as safety management systems have been implemented at airports, airlines and at atc providers nation-wide.

Until such time, Indonesian airlines will be banned from operating in European airspace and the international aviation community will continue to heavily criticise the Government of Indonesia for its lack of action and/or willingness to move forward with its commitment to improving the safety of its civil aviation system.

11th Jul 2008, 12:02

Are these ICAO classification delineation's? FAA-wise this would be classified as a routine nominal incident. The incident itself is not revealing. It's the total number of these incidents in relation to total flight hours operated. In Las Vegas, passengers (scared out of their wits) routinely call the FAA every year demanding action during the turbulent summer months. But citing passenger angst in Vegas or the event you describe sounds routine.

Here's a second-hand quote from one of our other posters:

This was said by the Chairman of United Technologies back in 1997:

"We've seen same kinds of gains in basic engine reliability, what we call in-flight shutdowns (IFSD). When we began with high bypass turbofans in the late 1960s, we regularly saw IFSD rates in the forty per 100,000 engine flight hour (EFH) range, or 400 per million EFH, or an expected shutdown of about once per engine per year.

So if this is an older aircraft it would not be unusual to shut an engine down and divert twice a year on it on a twin-engine model; is the way I understand it.

I know you're trying to find an interesting story, but event you described sounds routine to our resident aviator PK and to me as well. Frequently a common problem is "torching" where big balls of fire roll out of the tailpipe and seem worse than they really are.

But they are real crowd pleasers at night! :eek::eek::eek:

11th Jul 2008, 13:49
Obviously the Indonesian government must increase air carrier surveillance. A shortcut to regaining European acceptance would be to hire European and other ICAO aviation inspectors under contract who would oversee the hiring and training of local inspectors. And to be sure, the compensation package for local aviation inspectors must be sufficient to preclude corruption.

The Indonesian department of civil aviation could be reorganized and brought up to ICAO standards with help from the international aviation community if only the Indonesian government would suspend its xenophobia and allow expats to do it.

The government would be well to do to tightly regulate those domestic air carriers involved in essential air services. Citizens scattered on hundreds of isolated islands with airports and airstrips depend on aerial transport. But the fare structure on most of these remote domestic routes does not generate sufficient revenue for carriers to make adequate operating margins. Therefore, in addition to greater oversight of essential air services, the government should also increase operating subsidies commensurate with the increasing price of jet fuel. :ooh:

Cameron Bates
15th Jul 2008, 08:33
Thanks guys, extremely helpful comments. What concerns me most about the incidents is that they were not reported to the National Transportation Safety Commission (KNKT) as they should have been to allow for the immediate inspection of the aircrafts involved.An airline industry expert I contacted said the KNKT should immediately be appraised on any incident big or small, while the head of the KNKT didn’t really seem to be aware of his function. He told me at one point that yes they should have been informed, then backtracked and said only for “accidents and serious accidents”. He then thanked me for the information and asked that if I find out anything else to contact him.

Capt Snooze
15th Jul 2008, 08:41
Slight thread drift......................

From a thread and news reports a week or so ago, several Indonesian airlines had their AOCs revoked. Tri-MG was one of them.

The Tri-MG 737 freighter is still arriving in SIN about 3:00 am every morning. Anyone know the story?


Cameron Bates
15th Jul 2008, 09:19
JAKARTA, July 2 (Reuters) - Indonesia's transport ministry grounded five small airlines this week because they did not meet safety standards, a ministry official said on Wednesday.The transport ministry gave Helizona, SMAC, Asco Nusa Air, Tri-MG Intra Asia Airlines and Dirgantara Air Service three months to meet minimum safety standards, Budi Mulyawan Suyitno, director general of air transportation, said. "Those airlines, with small planes for rent, didn't meet safety standards," Suyitno said. "If within three months they don't show any improvement we will revoke their air operator's certificate."

15th Jul 2008, 17:06
Tri MG has actually 2 AOC: One Part 121 which is for their Boeing freighters, and one Part 135 which they used to unsuccessfully run a few Let 410 around the country. I believe the operation that was grounded is the 135 part of them, so the 121s (thence: Boeings to Singapore) is still up and running.

18th Jul 2008, 14:39
What I know is they should be reported to the DGAC instead, not the NTSC. An engine failure shouldn't be reported to the NTSC, neither is a hydraulic failure... which were those two events mentioned. They are just "events", not even minor incidents. If the Biak diversion on engine failure was contravening the regulations, again, it's the DGAC not the NTSC that should be informed. If the an aircraft leaves the runway (even by a centimeter) or it hits something it shouldn't, then the NTSC should be informed. Sorry I used the word "incident" previously, it should be "events". An engine failure on its own is no more than EOC (bird strike, engine fire), if it was a simple mechanical failure and they did everything by the book and it was a happy ending... it could pass off as an NE.

An LI or more severe, should be reported to the NTSC, but NTSC would only investigate SI or more severe.

The current delay in lifting the ban is caused by the same reason why we entered the ban, we were late in sending the documents again.

Btw, does that expert you mentioned has the initials of "D-S" or "C-S" by any chance? *grin* If so, then again, not surprised he said that.

And... where did you get those accident/incident classification? Sounds non-standard and I may know where it came from...


The Indonesian Government has to realise that aviation SAFETY is not negotiable.
And airlines that do understand this have actually self regulated themselves better than the government.
Now the irony is, when an airline can regulate themselves to standards that is a quantum leap from the government and more complies with some of the strictest standards, they still can't fly because of the government! And actually, that company doesn't intend to fly to Europe.

But the fare structure on most of these remote domestic routes does not generate sufficient revenue for carriers to make adequate operating margins. Therefore, in addition to greater oversight of essential air services, the government should also increase operating subsidies commensurate with the increasing price of jet fuel.
We got an airline flying these kinds of routes (to towns not communities) and made >2 mio USD last year (gross operating).

21st Jul 2008, 17:30
PK-KAR, were not 2 of the airlines closed flying the so called perintis routes with subsidies (SMAC and DAS)? And you imply there is an airline out there actually making money? Is that 2 million turnover or profit?

22nd Jul 2008, 09:13
Sod SMAC and DAS, they were destined into the history books for a while. Not Perintis, but 50-seater routes are those I was referring to. DAS's ATR ops was marred by huge markups which made the company bankrupt. The 2 million I mentioned is claimed to be net profit, though someone mentioned 20 million... I'd throw the latter with a lawndart. 20 million in turnover is not a problem. But the 2 million is likely to be gross operating margin only.

One "virtual operator" is making money by wet leasing other carriers... he just sets the routes and schedules and sells the tickets.

And as always, in true "follow the front sheep/lemming" tradition of this country, now we get lots of startup wannabes in that sector.

Strangely enough, I've been receiving indications of airlines here making money on 1H2008... somehow... this is at a time when everyone else outside is wondering when they're gonna go bust. The answer as to why is simple, Adam Air closed. Pax figures are falling at an estimated 5% on year on year basis, but capacity has been reduced by 20%-30% thanks to Adam Air shutting shop. Fares have more than doubled year on year, and up 50% since Adam Air closed.

If fuel prices rise further, then some will fail... but I find it ironic that 732 operators are still making money. The current cash drain for these companies here are pilot salary raises. Fuel, they just pass onto the customer.

22nd Jul 2008, 14:07
TRI MG used to has 2 AOC which are 121 for ( jet fleet/ B737/B727 ) and 135 ( prop / LET 410 ) the one that being revoked is the 135, which had merged into 121.. Yes,confusion also happened in KUL as TRI MG landed there and it takes a day to settle things up but now they fly to SIN as usual:ok:

25th Jul 2008, 08:24
On 24 July 2008, The European Commission adopted the eighth update of the so-called blacklist of airlines that are banned from flying into the countries of the European Union due to safety concerns.

In the case of Indonesia, the Commission and the Air Safety Committee which is composed of all EU Member States heard three airlines at their request – Garuda, Mandala and Air Fast, along with the authorities for civil aviation of Indonesia.

As I already mentioned in my input of 11 July 2008 on Indonesian aviation safety, the Commission also decided that the Indonesian authorities have still not developed and implemented an efficient oversight programme on any of the carriers under their regulatory control.

In addition,the corrective actions designed to address safety deficiencies identified by ICAO (in 2007) and by the Commission, have yet to be formaly assessed by ICAO before the end of 2008.

4th Aug 2008, 08:20
PK-KAR, you seem to have a source of insider information. The following letter in KOMPAS Newspaper from a reader seems believably to tell a story about a landing outside accepted parameters in Jakarta...

Pls comment:
Thx before...:)

AirAsia Mendarat di Landasan Rumput
AirAsia semakin kurang nyaman dalam penerbangannya. Terlebih pilot dan kru penerbangan yang kurang memberikan informasi kepada penumpang saat kondisi pesawat tidak nyaman, padahal dalam situasi darurat aba-aba atau peringatan dari pilot dan kru pesawat memberikan kesejukan kepada penumpang. Saya penumpang AirAsia (QZ 7717) dari Bangkok menuju Jakarta.
Pesawat mendarat di Bandara Soekarno-Hatta (27/6) seharusnya pukul 23.45, tetapi terlambat hingga pukul 00.30 dan mendarat di rerumputan sehingga tas-tas di dalam kabin berjatuhan dan para penumpang terkejut. Begitu pesawat mendarat dan penumpang merasa sudah aman serta ingin keluar pintu pesawat, tiba-tiba ada aba-aba agar penumpang menggunakan sabuk pengaman. Seluruh penumpang menjadi panik karena beranggapan pesawat mendarat dalam keadaan bermasalah dan harus terbang lagi.
Saat itu pesawat AirAsia seperti melompat-lompat menuju landasan pacu dan penumpang menduga pesawat itu mendarat di atas rumput bukan di landasan yang sebenarnya. Penumpang mulai histeris. Saat itu saya sangat panik, detak jantung menjadi cepat, dan sesak napas. Saya terkena serangan jantung, bahkan, menurut kakak saya, wajah dan kulit saya menjadi biru.
Setelah pesawat benar-benar berhenti, penumpang dengan barang-barang yang berantakan keluar dari pesawat.
Sayangnya, pilot dan para kru AirAsia tak ada yang memberikan kata maaf atau sepatah kata apa pun kepada para penumpang. Sampai sekarang rasanya saya masih trauma naik pesawat. Sebagai penumpang tentu berharap agar AirAsia bukan hanya memikirkan tentang tarif murah, tetapi bagaimana membuat pelayanan optimal.
SRIWARDANI Tasbi II, Medan Selayang, Medan
Sabtu, 2 Agustus 2008

KOMPAS Cetak : READKSI YTH (http://cetak.kompas.com/read/xml/2008/08/02/00400594/readksi.yth)