Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > PPRuNe Worldwide > South Asia and the Far East
Reload this Page >

Two years flying in Indonesia

South Asia and the Far East News and views on the fast growing and changing aviation scene on the planet.

Two years flying in Indonesia

Old 7th Feb 2013, 15:58
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Europe
Posts: 5
Two years flying in Indonesia

After I left Indonesia I decided to write a letter to a few local English newspapers. My objective was to improve safety and change, even just a bit, what should be changed. As far as I know they didn't publish it (or if they did then I wasn't inform).
Today in a world ruled by the economy, I am almost convinced that many things will never change, I find it sad but this is the way it goes. However I have now another target: inform the crewmembers of what is going on in this part of the world, to be prepared for the worst.
This letter is not technical, it was written for the Indonesian citizens. It is however a long letter, although all the anecdotes were summarised, but everything mentioned, and especially the way it is mentioned, will tell you how you feel when you fly so much that you always risk to fall asleep in a cockpit.
For sure I would have changed a few things if I had to write it again, to say it in a smoother way maybe, but I decided not to cheat, just copy and paste without looking back. As far as I am concerned this ugly truth should have been published, at least partially. Of course everyone is very welcome to react and to question me about all of this, especially the Indonesian pilots.

Dear fellow pilots, if you fly in this part of the world, here is what you might encounter:

I was arrived in Indonesia in August 2009, to start my first job as an airline pilot with a low cost airline and I joined the national company in December 2010. It was not the first time that I was working abroad but my first time in Asia and clearly the cultural shock was important. My philosophy had always been before: "say what you think, do what you say". Here I had to change, respect the tradition; which is normal of course, I don't like myself when some foreigners come in my country and want to make the rules.

Unfortunately the Asian way doesn't push to the same transparency when it comes to report a problem or even just simply give a negative answer. The reasons are usually to avoid some disappointments to someone, or very often at work to avoid admitting a lack of knowledge or a mistake. In both ways: from the employee to the one who is in charge... or especially the other way down, from the boss with his team workers, because he is supposed to know everything and of course he doesn't.
In my opinion it's sad, I feel myself happy if someone tells me when I'm wrong because then I'm learning something and improving.
And if it's ok to turn around in the city with a taxi driver who doesn't have the right to admit that he doesn't know the way (and I would have never blamed him when I see how the addressing system can be done in Jakarta), well in the aeronautical industry, and especially in my job, this is definitively not ok. In the taxi you can do that until you run out of fuel if you want and then you just walk (furthermore it’s even faster than waiting in the taxi during the traffic jam…); in the plane if you do that: you just crash.

In the Middle Age in my country, the messenger of bad news was punished by a death sentence. People in that time believed that he was the cause of the problem: if he didn't mention it everything would have been fine. Superstition, fear of some imaginary divine entity or whatsoever... that was more than 700 years ago. Believe it or not, I saw a bit of this in a cockpit in Indonesia. When you just attempt to start talking about any potential problem we could encounter during the flight, such as a bad weather forecast for instance, which could logically push you to decide to carry more fuel on board (it allows us to wait a longer time in the sky until the weather improves) or delay the departure; before you can mention it many Indonesian pilots don't want to hear and say it's no problem. They already decided even without reading that everything would be fine. And if you say anything about that: maybe you will make it happen. But if we don't and have this "positive energy" that animates all these pseudo-sciences then we will be fine...
No there is no such thing as a devil waiting, ready to make our fears real. Quite the contrary as a general rule (not only limited to a professional point of view) if you don't mention a problem very often you simply amplify it.

But how can we improve the safety with people who believe that everything is written, already decided by some kind of divine action? I don't know where they got this idea from, because nowhere in the Bible is written that you can be as much lazy and uneducated as you want and God will still do your job, quite the contrary. And my friends who can read the Arabic language told me that it's the same in the Koraan. Two major religions of Indonesia. In facts many people who often go to the musk or to the church die every year from an earthquake or a tsunami and we all know it...

The second obstacle in order to reach one day a satisfactory level of safety in the sky of Indonesia is the tendency that have so many Indonesian pilots (and not only the pilots) not to follow the rules. I guess this is actually a cultural problem when I see how people drive in Jakarta or simply act in the everyday life.
To operate an aircraft we, the operational pilots from any company, follow the procedures initially decided by the manufacturer such as Boeing or Airbus, considering all the requirements from different civil aviation authorities.
And it is not only limited to the operation of the aircraft itself, in a flight every details matter; such as keeping the cockpit door closed during the complete flight to prevent the risk of hijacking (criminal activities which purpose is to take control of the aircraft and their passengers), if one of the pilots needs to go to the toilets: call the cabin crew first to check if the toilets are vacant without any potential risk to open the door for a few seconds and immediately lock behind. Each pilot needs to have a different meal to prevent the risk of food poisoning, etc...
To define the procedures to operate the aircraft, during its certification, the test pilots follow a programme approved by the manufacturer’s engineering department, after completion of every necessary simulation. These pilots have a very good experience and knowledge of one or several of the manufacturer's previous aircrafts and receive a special training, to be able to sort out the best course of actions in case of problem during these tests. In addition they are permanently connected to a team of specialists on the ground receiving their data and comments and ready to provide an immediate assistance.
These procedures are some sequences of actions based on a logical chain of events. Trying to mix them in an inappropriate order, or skip a few of them, is like trying to bake a cake without following the recipe. It's very likely not going to be good, if not being a disaster...
Every test flight has an objective and is generally very demanding. This is why they fly much less than the operational pilots (especially in Indonesia but I will develop this subject later), and this is why the certification of an aircraft takes several years. They would never "try" a new procedure without any preparation, especially in a revenue flight full of passengers.

Many Indonesian pilots do it, as I said, and they clearly don't have the same knowledge, skills and organisation. Their decision making is very often questionable. We were all surprised to see how bad can be a pilot who has logged 20000 flight hours or more and who flew in most places of the world, on many types of aircrafts, for short or long hauls. Their main concern seems to be a smooth landing for the passengers. Since the NASA’s studies we know that a trained monkey can do that… and it's clearly not what defines a good pilot, quite the contrary according to the manufacturer operation manuals, especially when the runway is short like in Yogjakarta or Pekanbaru (because they use the thrust of the engine for a nice touchdown and it increases the landing distance to stop the aircraft).
As an explanation, I was thinking that maybe after so many years, they became lazy or tired of studying and didn't want to open a book and follow the procedures anymore. But I think there is another reason.
One day I was flying as a safety pilot on a training flight with a student. The instructor told me that he had just finished his flying school and was starting his career directly on a jet aircraft of 80 tons. When I mean directly I really mean it: not even one minute on a Cessna or any other light aircraft! This was so incredible to me that I asked him to repeat this information to be sure I understood clearly (frequent misunderstandings happened between the Indonesian pilots and us). Even in Indonesia I don't think it was allowed. If you fly a big modern aircraft, you don't feel anything with all the hydraulic or electronic assistances. You don't know how an aircraft is flying; this student never even did an approach to stall recovery (to be trained to react if the speed is insufficient) or any other manoeuvre for real!!! And he will probably never, as I find it so complicated to fly as a private pilot in Indonesia (I mean really flying not just turning around the airfield). And in addition to that, he was following his own procedures already (not respecting the book). When I was inquiring about that, the instructor simply said that it was to make it easier. I was shocked because I got the chance to have very good instructors, in Indonesia, who always showed me the corresponding lines in the books each time they asked me to change something in my method or when I was not able to answer to their questions. I would have liked to fly with them all my time here actually...
We were talking in this case about non-vital items but you have to understand that this is only the beginning. This young pilot, in a country where we respect so much the older people (which is itself a good quality that, I am afraid, we lost in the western countries) and also the chain of command with no real free mind, he will never get the chance to perform according to the standard. And I can imagine what kind of pilot he will be after 20000 hours, which is less than 20 years in Indonesia...
Of course nobody is perfect and we all do mistakes, but this is very different from the intentional fault much more dangerous. Being used to perform below the standard has the consequence to seriously increase the risk of incident or accident in case of any additional problem or unusual situation. From the general opinion of the expatriate pilots flying in Indonesia, this attitude is irresponsible and dangerous.

As previously mentioned, this dangerous tendency is not only limited to the pilots. In the following part, I will have to illustrate my point by using several examples from what I saw and heard during the last years. I will not name the concerned airlines because it would be unfair as I can only be sure of what I personally saw; rumours from several sources have generally a substantial part of truth, but it's impossible to define how much and not being aware of other problems in other companies doesn't mean that they don't exist. Therefore I will intentionally not identify what I know for sure from what I consider as likely being the truth. And also: we all have our own perception, so everything I will say is of course subjective and in this case without any kind of evidence.
But let's simply put it that way: you can consider the probability that nothing, of what I am going to reveal here, is true - with all the consequences this article could have on my career - around zero... And I know that my pilot mates will immediately understand what I'm talking about, if not even identify themselves as already being involved in the following situations, this is their sore privilege.

Every pilot I met, Indonesian or not, is convinced that the corruption is omnipresent in Indonesia. Some airlines pay for everything: get some medical certificates or flight licenses for their pilots. They might pay for the working permit of their expatriate pilots, maybe even for the certificates to operate their aircrafts in Indonesia.
I'm pretty sure that an airline already paid to get a special dispensation in order to make at least one of us flying during a few months with an expired european license using a "valid validation" of his invalid license!
The corruption can be present on several levels and under different aspects. Let me show you how deep it can be... It took me some time to understand why the controllers of Jakarta never follow the established procedures, for the departures and arrivals of the airplanes. These routes in the sky are stored in the computer of the aircraft and the autopilot could follow them easily. Everything is ready, we could use the procedure turns defined for holding and wait for our turn to land, simply following the path. It's possible to do it on several levels like they know how to do in USA or Europe with a bigger traffic; for the best fuel efficiency, the last arrived will be above and all the aircrafts will get down one by one until they can land. And to minimise the holding time in all the modern aircrafts, during the cruise we can define the time of arrival, the precision of the different navigation systems is, from what I read and saw, always greater than 100 meters and 5 seconds for the space and time allocations, all tolerances considered. And it will very likely be even better. So many possibilities to make it efficient... but they don't use any of them.
Instead of that they give to all of us multiple instructions like: "turn left heading 250 degrees, descend to 5000 feet, reduce speed to 230 knots". Most of the time you will just hear the values, sometimes without any call sign, which is confusing and dangerous, in a very poor english. It was hard for all of us to get used to the local pronunciation, native english speakers or not, and if we ask them to repeat they sometimes do it even faster or ignore us. At the end it's not efficient and if only 20 or more aircrafts are near the airport then the communications are saturated and it's impossible to talk or make a distress call (which has always been the primary function of the radio). So why are they doing that?
The answer is: if you follow a defined path before the landing separated by 2 or 3 minutes between each aircraft, then the controller cannot give the priority to one of them and allow him to "overtake" inside of the other aircrafts’ path widely vectored around the airport on purpose. In Indonesia a controller can have two jobs (or maybe more I don't know) and he can work for an Indonesian airline company in the same time. In addition an airline can offer them some benefits like some free tickets, etc..
Several of us have already been guided dangerously close to a mountainous area. Fortunately once again in the modern aircrafts, unlike in the past, the computer has a map of most of the obstacles, so we don't blindly follow their instructions until these guys kill us all...
This corruption is dangerous, Jakarta is considered by the local pilots themselves as a jungle where no rules apply. Of course every jungle has his king...

A few words about maintenance. In some airlines, the flight engineers and the other technicians can have a very poor knowledge and education. We personally saw four men trying to remove the wheel of an aircraft with their bare hands! This scene would have been very funny, and would have deserved to be broadcasted in a comic movie, if only these cavemen discovering an incredibly advanced time machine were not the staff in charge of the maintenance of our own aircraft. The one which could transport you and your family in the risky sky of Indonesia... You wouldn't do it with your own car, these men were trying it with a much bigger wheel! After a relatively long time they realised it was too hard, then they went to bring back the appropriate tool. This example is self explicit enough to avoid any other explanation.
I read on Internet this story about an expired fire extinguisher, the one we would use for the engine in case of emergency, that the pilots requested from the ground personal to be replaced. They tried to corrupt them with a few hundreds thousands of Rupiah (tens of USD) to accept to do the flight anyway. According to my colleagues, who flew in this airline before, this story could likely be true.

In some airlines, the selection of the cabin crew members has clearly other criteria than the safety... and their training is insufficient. The "senior" flight attendant in charge can be very young, like 19 year old, and not being able to make some important decisions; the rest of the cabin crew members even younger, would be totally lost in case of emergency.
In the year 2010 in Jakarta during the push back (which occurs at the very beginning of the flight after the aircraft closes his doors) an expatriate pilot was not able to understand the message of the flight attendant who was calling the cockpit. The Indonesian pilot sitting next to him was in communication with the ground engineer in the same time (also not able to talk english...) and couldn't talk to her immediately. Once he did, the pilots understood that a passenger was having a heart attack and they stopped the towing. None of the cabin crew members were able to assist this poor woman. As a former first aid worker, I did a few simulations myself and I can imagine how stressful can be this situation. And I am not 20 or less... But this time, it was clearly not the worst case scenario: on the ground at 50 metres from the boarding gate and a doctor who could finally use the first aid equipment was on board. But he couldn't resuscitate her and she died in the cabin. She was less than 60 and I didn't even see her name appearing in the newspaper...

The last item regarding the safety I would like to emphasise on this non exhaustive list - the most dangerous according to my personal experience, especially when combined with the two other factors - is the working conditions of Indonesia.
The duty time limitation has a maximum of 14 hours for the pilots and 18 hours for the flight attendants. It includes all the flights of the day and the duties before, between and after. Each company seems to be apparently free to define how much time will be allocated before and after the flight. This limit is applicable day... or NIGHT! Which is already a total non sense and, trust me, this is very dangerous.
The flight time limitation, all the flights summed together, is 9 hours per day, 30 hours per 7 consecutive days, 110 hours per month and 1050 hours per year. This is one of the highest of the world.
A minimum of 9 hours each day and 24 hours of rest every 7 days. Clearly not enough, so many days off (almost always only one at a time) I spent at home to recover from my previous week. No private life, always the feeling to live in a cockpit (I even wrote most of this article in a cockpit!). The crew members are always tired and of course it has some consequences on their performance of everyday and in their capacity to react to an emergency situation (which is fortunately very rare and that makes it the main reason why there are not so many fatalities, nothing else).
In some airlines they push very hard to unofficially exceed these limitations, even sometimes using a form where you log your illegal hours paid with a higher rate! Some pilots have two logbooks, one for the civil aviation and another one with the real hours to look for another job maybe one day. Unfortunately so many airlines in the world (not only limited to Indonesia) are considering only the number of hours and not the conditions in which these hours were done. I personally don't understand that. I am relatively young in this business but I already know that between two pilots who flew respectively 2000 and 1500 hours during 2 years, the second one, who has less flight hours, has MORE experience. He was not sleeping every flight... And I don't say that because I am in the second case! (it's actually a real performance to fly only around 1500 hours in more than 2 years in Indonesia... you have to refuse a lot of schedules exceeding the limitations and even face some intimidations for this result). I saw some pilots flying so much that they were acting like zombies before going to fly.
It is true that during all these years since the commercial aviation has been developed, the automatisms became more and more present in a cockpit. But it allowed the companies to significantly increase the frequency of flights and reduce the turn around times on the ground, in order to decrease the costs of operation, while reducing the number of pilots in the cockpit. Actually I think that flying has never been harder as it is now. I often heard people saying that being a pilot is easy (most of them never actually went inside of a cockpit, except in a light aircraft maybe), I would simply answer that there is more than one way to do his job. The more you fly, the more you are supposed to study, to keep your knowledge current; we talk of a real big amount of knowledge (especially with - but not only limited to - the elaborated systems of the modern aircrafts): in theory hundreds of technical pages per week in average to cover absolutely everything to a good level. And most of the pilots in the world are not native english speakers. So far I never met a pilot who could do all of that. And also because, unfortunately in this world, these hours define your experience and the more experimented you are, the more responsibilities you get (like flying to very specific airports or dealing with some unusual problems) and therefore the more you should know. In practice I saw the exact opposite. It was already hard for me to study during these last years and try not to fall asleep in a cockpit. I cannot imagine if I were flying more than 1000 hours per year...
I should rather say: hard for me not to fall asleep… too often. I am not ashamed to admit that I was taking some short naps during the cruise level in good weather. With the autopilot engaged and the other pilot to monitor, it's actually much safer than taking the chance of falling asleep, or being in a condition of low vigilance, during a critical phase of flight like it happened to all of us, at least one time, especially by night. However as this was a two-man-operation aircraft, my action was technically condemnable. So strange can sometimes be the law...

I read in the news, in the middle of the year 2011, that the ministry of transportation of Indonesia declared that an airline pilot could not legally fly more than 50 hours per month. Either these people are complete ignorant or total liars. How come some pilots legally reach the maximum of the year (1050) in the month of October then? Not to mention about the unofficial records...
Even worst! At the end of the year 2011 the law has changed, it's not anymore 30 hours per 7 days but 30 hours since the last day off (the 24 hours of rest for every 7 days is fortunately still valid so far). So now you can exceed 30 hours; in theory up to 27 hours per 4 days, reach the 110 hours limit in the middle of the month and... switch to another logbook maybe!
Come on! Wake up Indonesia! Everybody is trying to make the law more restrictive to protect their people except you. You are going from very low standard to extremely low... Profit, is it only what matters to you? I heard before I came here that the cost of life was cheap. Was it literally?

In early 2010 I was myself the witness and survivor of a severe incident which could have very quickly turned into a drama. I will never forget that night for the rest of my life where fortunately nobody died (which means in Indonesia: the public did not hear about it). The technical details are not important, what is relevant is the cause of this incident which was due to the physical conditions of the pilots. They were flying too much and... they were respecting the law! This was my statement to the civil aviation: "what was the cause of the incident? _You were!"

I will also add that all the reports we made to a safety department of an airline company (which is, in Indonesia, not as independent as it should be from the other departments) won't change anything eventually. The profit is the main concern (if not the only one) and, in this period of intense economic development in this part of the world, they need all the pilots they can find.

To be continued...
gperignon is offline  
Old 7th Feb 2013, 18:44
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Europe
Posts: 1,484
Thank you for sharing. Good information despite the broken English. Scary stuff! However, not very surprising - which is sad..............
Iver is offline  
Old 7th Feb 2013, 18:57
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Middle East
Age: 35
Posts: 35
This must be one of the longest post's I have read!

Lion Air, where to begin! Adam air similar situation!! Gauruda? lets not even get started on them.

yes Indonesia is a very unsafe place to be flying right now, you here about alot of indian pilots barley finishing there commercial and flying large passenger jets over there. its only a matter of time before we see another stat on the aircraft crash register, Geneva
POS_INT is offline  
Old 7th Feb 2013, 20:38
  #4 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Europe
Posts: 5
And now the following

In the same topic, a few words about my own conditions as an expatriate pilot flying in Indonesia. Not all of us had the same experience and treatment (fortunately!), this is just my own testimony.
When I was finalizing this article in the end of November 2011, I was in the plane going back to Europe (not in the cockpit this time!). I decided to wait, to secure another job first before publishing. I was leaving Indonesia because I lost my job like all the other expatriates working in my company. The local pilots were requiring for our departure after unsuccessful negotiations with the company to increase their salary. One of us only had a few hours to go back home, pack everything he could, and leave the country with his wife before the end of the day. How are we considered here? Only criminals are treated like that where I come from. Some story of visa that the company didn’t want to renew as I heard… I don’t know the exact problem but this is disgusting anyway and deserved to be mentioned in this article.
I remember when I came in Indonesia, we also got some problems with the local pilots but for the opposite reason. I was working for free at that time, not even a single allowance for my accommodation or any kind of insurance provided by the company. Crazy things a man has to do sometimes to survive in a recession time, far from his family, full of debts and risking his life... I was considered like someone who was killing the market and lowering the local pilots’ salary. Surprisingly the same logic didn't apply when my salary became better (good for Indonesia, just ok for the other countries considering the working hours), nobody thank me for improving their conditions...
On the contrary, this was a source of jealousy and childish behaviour from several local pilots. The last time I surprised myself acting like that, I was just a kid and jealous of my young brother... As I said some people can be such old kids. I didn't really understand why it was not a problem if we had higher salaries before we flew in Indonesia and the same conditions became suddenly unacceptable when we were together in the same cockpit. I think that in Indonesia the salary really defines what you are, how important and intelligent. Near the place I used to live, some people were building some incredibly luxurious villas or even palaces. Why do they need a balcony if they never use it because it's too hot outside? The more you show, the better…?
I remember one day when we were 2 hours late on a flight to Surabaya because of the Indonesian pilot who refused to fly with me, saying I was paid 3 times more than him. I didn't even know what he was saying about me to our passengers in indonesian, telling me he had nothing personal against me, just against the management, but still able to make such a public announcement, sitting next to me in the cockpit while I was busy flying. I didn't know why I was replaced when we came back to Jakarta for the last flight. Even if the company was managing quite well this situation, nobody gave me any explanation and I was the only idiot who didn't know why everybody was looking at me (but not really staring, somehow embarrassed about something) when I got down of the aircraft. As discussed: communication is really something which could be improved in Indonesia. I understood why thanks to a journalist who was present on board and decided he could wrote an interesting article about this story [INDOPOS, 16/06/2011, page 7 "Penerbangan, Terlambat Paling Geleng Geleng] and thanks also to my girlfriend who can read the Indonesian newspapers... Well if he said the truth about his salary, then this pilot should change for any Indonesian low cost airline: even as a first officer, he would get a raise!
These people don't know how to count or they just lie. I never saw anything true about what has been said to the journalists about my personal conditions during this crisis. One day I was "kidnapped" in Pekanbaru, the Indonesian pilot flying with me was on a strike and didn't want to come back to Jakarta during a demonstration. We had the time to talk about it. When I came in Indonesia to be a pilot again, I was selling everything I had, leaving a good job and borrowing some money everywhere I could (which was not enough) to be able to work for free for one of the longest and most difficult period of my life. If only I was simply working for free! I even had to pay a really big amount of money to have the right to do that, my salary was highly negative! I had to take care about everything.
In addition to my personal condition, I told him that in Europe the majority of the pilots would pay for all their trainings and flight hours before they could join a company. We talk of really big amounts of money which can easily go above 100 000€ (more than 1 billion of Rp). In Indonesia the companies pay the training, even on big jet aircrafts as a first job for those who are lucky.
In summary I told him that he didn't realise his chance and if he wanted the absolute parity then he would actually have to give me some money...

But this was my contract, it was clearly defined before I came in Indonesia and I knew what kind of commitment I was making. Or at least I thought I knew…
What was clearly not the contract were the conditions in which I initially became a prisoner during too many months. For the very first expatriates to come to work to Jakarta for many years, the passport was collected by the company, in charge of dealing with the immigration department. It took a very long time to come back, officially still processed by the immigration department; in reality hold in a drawer within the company. I cannot politely express what were our feelings regarding this kind of practice and I am very glad that the man responsible of that is not in charge anymore. When the passport came back, the multi entry visa was almost expired but I didn’t really pay attention to it. A multi entry visa is to come in, not to go out. I innocently thought at this time that if I am not happy in a new place and good enough in my job, I would be able to go and find something else. But you have to be aware that Indonesia can be a real jail for those who are trapped without any valid entry visa, single or mutli, or without an exit permit only (once again, we are not talking about tourists here). The immigration officer will not let you go unless he is sure that you will come back, or unless the sponsor agrees to let you go. I remember the strong arguments I had with an officer one time, trying to sort this problem out in the immigration office near my place. The lady told me that my problem was coming from my company, a bad sponsor according to her. I replied that THEY were the ones who hold me here, that in my country not only would she be free to go home, but also that my government would even send her home for free if her situation was not regulated (in most of cases with a minimum amount of money). I had to sit down for a few minutes because I couldn’t take it anymore; I would have never imagined that one day in my life, I would feel how it is to be deprived from my fundamental rights. No matter if the prison is a real one, with dangerous cell mates, or if it is your own apartment, it leaves a very bitter feeling. One of us escaped and as unbelievable and unfair as it is, he is officially the one who is the criminal researched in Indonesia and in the state of Florida of the USA.
We didn’t have a contract with the company itself but with a third party, a broker who provided us a “line training” while we were raising our flight hours and working absolutely for free during one year, starting from the first flight. As I said before, it took many months to do this first flight and in the mean time you wait, at your own expenses, not even starting the beginning of the end of this modern slavery. To break the contract, in addition to the unclear fees to be deducted from the 30,000USD we had paid to this broker, an additional penalty of 10,000USD to be paid to the company would apply. In other words we were stuck… Later on when we finally managed to start flying, I remember this time when we landed to Batam. I was dreaming of slightly changing our course for Singapore just 10Nm to the north and escape... with the sleep deprivation, it can be hard sometimes to distinct dreams from reality. Did you imagine at any second that the last time you took the plane, maybe one of the pilots in the cockpit was flying with handcuffs?
Amended to my contract, I had a specific agreement to allow me to come back home every two months for personal reasons. I immediately got fired when I was simply checking if they were aware of this agreement. Of course this broker immediately denied such agreement, I had to show it to the director to avoid being fired (a simple email with an electronic signature) and as a part of their “breaking process”, I apologized for what I didn’t do and had to renounce to visit my family. First job in Asia… enjoy!
Once it was clearly established for everybody that we couldn’t fly with an expired license or medical certificate (whatever the company was ready to do about it), we were authorised to go back to Europe two times one week only per year (still at our own expenses of course) to renew both of them. Again with this, but for the unlucky expatriates who had to leave the country before January 2011, the NPWP yellow card was necessary to prove that you already paid your income tax (named FISKAL). If you didn’t have it, you had to pay a fee of 2.5MRp (more than 250USD) each time you left the country. The company didn’t want to provide us this card; I suppose it would have costed them a bit of something. Since we didn’t have any income, of course we didn’t pay any tax… I had to explain all of this and “bargain” with the immigration officer each time I had to leave the country, foreseeing one hour for it to avoid missing my flight. It was not only a question of principle, I simply couldn’t afford it. I still think about it if I fly as a passenger and pass this, now, empty desk adjacent to the glass wall before the immigration check lines of the international terminal of Jakarta. In a country were so many people believe that because you have a white skin, you are probably rich and it’s normal to take as much money as possible from you; I had the feeling that everything was done to make my life as miserable as possible and during that time I could count the days I enjoyed living and flying in Indonesia on the fingers of my hands.

All these stories are the ugly truth, to the best of my knowledge. This is just a summary from a significant amount of unknown dangerous or unacceptable events. This information is not mine; neither does it belong to any entity. And it is my duty to make it public. I think everybody has the right to know what happens in the sky where Indonesian companies operate (not only limited to Indonesia as you can imagine) before something terrible might happen. This is my only real objective; I had no intention to blame anyone (another reason to wait before publishing, not to let my personal feelings interfering with my own judgement). But lives are at stake and I think that all of this has to change, even if it implies shocking and disturbing a few people for the benefit of the whole population. I don’t see any other way. In one part of the world where the risk is one of the highest, I really hope this email can have even the slightest possible effect on the flight safety.
gperignon is offline  
Old 8th Feb 2013, 00:23
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Earth
Posts: 25
Mate, I love the way you dignify working for free in your post. If you ask me, you deserve to be treated even worse.. You cannot even manage to keep a job whereby u pay the employer to be employed.

On the other hand, I'm glad you managed to get out.
Meathead Pilot is offline  
Old 8th Feb 2013, 02:54
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Pasir Ris
Posts: 55
In early 2010 I was myself the witness and survivor of a severe incident which could have very quickly turned into a drama. I will never forget that night for the rest of my life where fortunately nobody died (which means in Indonesia: the public did not hear about it). The technical details are not important, what is relevant is the cause of this incident which was due to the physical conditions of the pilots.
If you were really concerned about air safety as you suggest you are, then I think the technical details are very important. Why don't you wish to disclose it? Were you a part of the crew of that incident? Knowing Lion Air, it was probably a runway over-run as they've had plenty such incidents in the past. If you were a part of the crew, and you were the F/O in this case, then you are also partly to blame. As F/O, you are the one who keeps the other pilot in check, and makes sure he does not operate beyond the the margin of safety.

Am I seeing a trend in your posts, that just because you are a P2F pilot in Lion Air, you don't feel like it's your responsibility for the safe conduct of the flight?

This opens up a whole new can of worms from a human factors point of view. Does a crew member in the right hand seat, who is a P2F, still values himself as a part of the crew complement? Sure on paper, it says 'SIC', but do they feel that way and get treated that way by their peers?

Please do tell us more about that incident you mentioned, and don't just say it's the captain's fault. After all, if you were in the right hand seat, then you are also responsible for the safe conduct of the flight.
WSSS is offline  
Old 8th Feb 2013, 06:40
  #7 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Malaysia
Posts: 120
Figured that was why he left... If he had voiced up....1) nothing would have changed in the cockpit 2) he would be 'marked' as a troublemaker ...

Probably had a narrow escape and the senior man in the left hand seat could barely cope as he should have been able to., (don't forget the poster had minimum experience..) and decided to leave. We have seen how some airlines/country treats expats...

Having done his time and gained some hours...then off to fresh fields and a real career with someone who won't hold it against him for working in Indonesia!

my 2 cents.

Anilv is offline  
Old 8th Feb 2013, 07:15
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: africa
Age: 34
Posts: 137
I'm with Meathead on this one ....P2F idiots like him/her deserve all they get ..YOU are a disgrace to the professional flying community.please go back to driving your ambulance or what ever you did before.you are NOT wanted or respected by the rest of us.

Last edited by camel; 8th Feb 2013 at 10:23.
camel is offline  
Old 9th Feb 2013, 11:21
  #9 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Europe
Posts: 5
I reply in sequence.

I kept my job and finished my contract. If I had found another way to start this career, trust me I would have done it.

As I explained in my post I didn't want to be specific about the name of the airlines because all of these stories could happen with any of them.
I was not part of the active crew during the incident I mentioned. I didn't give any details because, and that was mentioned in the conclusion of the investigation, the biggest factor in this situation was the general conditions of the pilots. They flew too much even though they still respected the regulation. No matter how good is the training and the experience, everyone has a limit. My point is: in Indonesia the pilots are too often to reach their limits.
I agree to say that the SIC is sharing the responsibility with the PIC and it is his duty to speak up and even take over. Easier to say than to do however but yes never assume that none of what we do will ever make any difference. I saw too much of that during these years.
gperignon is offline  
Old 9th Feb 2013, 11:32
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: In a far better place
Posts: 2,480
gperignon, you are prime example of being part of the problem and not part of the solution. There were many posts about Lion Air in 2009. You either did not take the time to perform your due diligence, regarding Lion Air, or just buried your head in the sand and bought your way into the right seat of a shiny jet.

gperignon, tuition comes at a high price. But respect among one’s peers and self-respect comes at even a higher price, which one does not earn by pimpming themselves.

P2F have no right nor should be considered as a member of the industry.

Last edited by captjns; 9th Feb 2013 at 11:37.
captjns is offline  
Old 9th Feb 2013, 11:39
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Cochin VOCI , India
Age: 31
Posts: 1,610
It sounds like he was working for Garuda Indonesia rather than Lion Air . He paid to fly and once had the 500 hours on type or 1000 hours on type was hired on expat contract which paid higher than what they paid the local Garuda Pilots

Thats why the Garuda pilots were planing to go on strike .

I have never heard of Lion Air Pilots going on strike due to higher pay to foreigners
I am quite sure Lion Air will never pay more money for foreigners than they pay the locals especially for the FO position

Especially when every Tom , Dick and Harry with their name on a CPL are ready to offer a bucket load of money for that elusive FO job to operate the flaps and gear on a 737

Last edited by cyrilroy21; 9th Feb 2013 at 11:40.
cyrilroy21 is offline  
Old 9th Feb 2013, 14:21
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Jungle
Posts: 478
It sounds like he was working for Garuda Indonesia rather than Lion Air . He paid to fly and once had the 500 hours on type or 1000 hours on type was hired on expat contract which paid higher than what they paid the local Garuda Pilots
Garuda never had a P2F program and never had expat pilots until late 2010. This knuckle dragger OP said he arrived Indonesia in 2009, and then joined the national company (Garuda) in December 2010. The Garuda pilot strike was in June 2011.

So, it's easy to deduce the chronology of events of the OP's time in Indonesia.

He arrived Indonesia in August 2009. Did the P2F thing with Lion Air until he joined Garuda in December 2010. Around June/July 2011 was when the Garuda pilot union went on strike because Garuda employed foreign pilots who were paid much more than the local pilots.

But the real issue here is that these P2Fs, who paid to fly with Lion Air, and who were then employed by Garuda with approximately 500 hours were were on a much higher salary than a Garuda captain who has decades of experience and tens of thousands of hours. And you can't blame the Garuda pilot union for going on strike for that. For the record, the union got their way and Garuda stopped employing foreign pilots (until just recently with the new CRJ 1000 coming on line).

So now knuckle dragger OP, after having to go back to Europe starts whinging and whining about how he was hard done by the Indonesians. Sure, safety is always an issue in Indonesia, but his posts smells more like sour grapes than anything else.

That pretty much sums up his epic posting here on PPRuNe.
smiling monkey is offline  
Old 9th Feb 2013, 17:42
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: In someone pocket
Posts: 1,126
I see a lot P2F guys complaining.. I realized..when they have a few 1000hrs on jet somehow they upgrade themselves to Commanders or director of flt ops.. somehow they know everything about standards and flying etc.

A lot Europeans P2F come over to Southeast Asia/Asia to get there hours and what money they can get then go back to europe and complain about this and that. It Asia .. it not europe.. it are not the same.. Next time go and try to find a job in RUSSIA.. you will see some real hair raising stuff and violations. Everywhere there are problems with airlines all over the world Qatar, Ethiopian, Cathay, Korea, China, Emirates etc.. all have problems.. as professional pilots just suck up it.

What do you expect when you leave your own country for the first time. Nothing is what it seems.. we live outside our comfort zone.. its life, everyday we learn and adapt. I guess people who complain to much about other countries have not been around world...

Its funny no really cared for Indonesia a few years ago. Most P2F pilot probably didn't know where Indonesia or Southeast Asia was and 90% probably laugh at coming here to work. Now they are still coming and asking for jobs.

P2F pilots should be thankful to Southeast Asia. otherwise all you youngster with 0hrs on type rating would be still siting at home, thinking next year its going to be different, thinking/hoping that European airline will hire him/her with 0Hrs A320/B737

I think 100% P2F pilots are still alive and kicking in Indonesia.. so whats the problem..

Last edited by jetjockey696; 9th Feb 2013 at 17:54.
jetjockey696 is offline  
Old 9th Feb 2013, 22:58
  #14 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Australia
Posts: 377
A quiet suggestion. If you screamers are that strongly principled against P2F people who post on PPRuNe , then rather than bitching about P2F pilots, maybe it would be more constructive to re-channel your bile to the recruiting agencies that arrange these contracts in the first place. You can be sure your suggestions would be warmly welcomed. Who knows, by persuading them with logical argument, they might even agree with you and willingly put themselves out of business..

Last edited by sheppey; 9th Feb 2013 at 23:04.
sheppey is offline  
Old 10th Feb 2013, 00:31
  #15 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: On the equator
Posts: 1,295
Originally Posted by sheppey View Post
A quiet suggestion. If you screamers are that strongly principled against P2F people who post on PPRuNe , then rather than bitching about P2F pilots, maybe it would be more constructive to re-channel your bile to the recruiting agencies that arrange these contracts in the first place.
That's already done by the DGCA apparently. Not directly, but by the DGCA's new regulation requiring foreign pilots to have a minimum of 250 hours on type before they can work in Indonesia. This new ruling apparently was targeted at Lion's P2F program because Lion preferred to hire P2F people, over local graduate pilots because they don't have to pay P2F a salary. Local Indonesian pilots, many of whom with connections to the government, lobby the DGCA to put an end to this. Consequently, Lion has now stopped their P2F program with Eagle Jet.
training wheels is offline  
Old 10th Feb 2013, 14:00
  #16 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: SouthEastAsia
Posts: 107
@jj696: well said...
brasmelzuit is offline  
Old 10th Feb 2013, 18:34
  #17 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Europe
Posts: 5
I didn’t really know what to think about P2F before I became one. In my opinion only those who lost their job one day and had to do what it takes to face their problems can understand it. In many posts on the net, if you read the advices or summarise what people say, then you wait at home applying everywhere, hoping for something to come. After some time you realise that you can’t wait like that forever, let alone for those who have a family.

The young pilots who struggle to start their career is the favourite example used by those who hate this category of pilots. Of course not everybody has the chance to get the financial assistance for that, and unfortunately the time when you could start in a company in Europe with smaller jobs such as loading or cleaning the aircraft is far gone. Even though you do everything right nowadays, in most of places of the world, you won’t find a first job as a pilot.

But there are other examples you can also meet. Some pilots lose their job and don’t find any other on their type. Some couldn’t find before a certain amount of time and are not current anymore (it goes very fast). Some pilots are stuck in their company with no real perspective of evolution, or bad ones if the company is not profitable, (SO who has to wait many years before becoming FO, PIC on turbo prop who wants to fly jets…). I even heard about retired pilots who lost their pension during the recession and couldn’t find any other way to start flying again. You do that for some time before you can bounce back and have a normal life again.

I don’t judge any of them, I didn’t understand the problem myself when I was privileged. Today I don’t think there is really one case which is better than the other. We can have this debate if you want.

My objective when I decided to put this letter online (which was not intended to be posted in a forum of pilots as I explained) is to provide the information for those who will have to go and fly in this region. Whether they are paying to fly or not, it doesn’t matter. They will be a bit more prepared, if anything can prepare you for that. Those who flew in Indonesia know the dimension of the problems. We are not talking about a “comfort zone” here as I explained in my post.

Some recent measures seem to indicate that they are aware of the situation and trying to improve it, I agree. I am for sure glad about it, I wrote this letter in that respect.

In the last part, which raised so many comments, I wanted to denounce this practice of withholding passports which I didn’t know before. As far as I know this is now over in Indonesia. But still many other countries do it and not necessarily the poorest ones.
gperignon is offline  
Old 10th Feb 2013, 20:56
  #18 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: In a far better place
Posts: 2,480
Sheppey suggests….
If you screamers are that strongly principled against P2F people who post on PPRuNe ,then rather than bitching about P2F pilots, maybe it would be more constructive to re-channel your bile to the recruiting agencies that arrange these contracts in the first place.

There are a large number of unemployed pilots on the streets. They've accumulated their time by honest means. They did not pay Dollars, Quids, nor Rupees in order to get into the right seat. Think about it. If no one bit onto the P2F schemes, where would Lion Air get their expat first officers?

Again the problem are with the pimps in the industry seeking instant gratification to get that job in the right seat. Whats even worse iare the experienced captains taken up with the likes of Ethiopian Airlines. Flying revenue flights at $60USD per day until they’ve completed their final line checks and are released to the line.

That said Sheppey, miscreants such as these continue to lower the bar... your bar at a respectable future in the industry. Is that your desire? I hope not. You see, these individuals are part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.

Here’s my recommendation for a viable solution to the problem. With immediate effect, Chief Pilots and Directors of Operations scrutinize applicants very carefully to discern the means of how hours have been accumulated. Individuals who’ve chosen the route of instant gratification rather than accumulating hours by legitimate means by participating in the P2F schemes need to be bypassed for consideration of employment until the pool of legitimate applicants have been exhausted.

Last edited by captjns; 10th Feb 2013 at 21:02.
captjns is offline  
Old 11th Feb 2013, 01:12
  #19 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: SouthEastAsia
Posts: 107
@gperignon : well, I'm in Indonesia myself.. I never knew that holding pasport practises. My fellow european pilots are now back home for 2 weeks vacation, which was easily applied to their chief pilot.
I start to think that you jus made that up coz u screwed yourself and company kicked u out..

Last edited by brasmelzuit; 11th Feb 2013 at 01:14.
brasmelzuit is offline  
Old 11th Feb 2013, 01:43
  #20 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: asia
Posts: 11
Well said Brazelmuit

gperignon , thanks for your long messages and yes we others should not always critize every comment ! But i must admit some of your post details sounds as someone who plays the game as P2F ( also I can understand why some people do it , ) then got job offer and good on you for the job ! But enjoy it , maybe you lost the job as many people do but do not go "attacking" suddenly a system ! F.E in many major airports and not only at CGK are vectors giving for your approach , HKG , PVG and just name it if you only want to keep it in Asia ! The so said cockpit atmosphere in Indonesia is not only happening in Indo ! If you really want to attack the indonesian way of flying then go also after SQ , China Airlines , Korean cockpit atmosphere ..... Try to look at the great moments during your stay in Indonesia ! And yes good to hear from someone as Brazelmuit ( sorry spelling) giving some positive experience feedback to others trying to see the bigger picture . And yes gperignon also thanks for your feedback , we should also appreciate it !
I only would like to say : PPRuNe is a great tool to exchange info about pilot jobs , lifes etc . So let us as pilots just use this web to exchange and try to help others who trying to get their first pilot or airlinejobs ......
Even if wehad bad experience in a country or certain company ..... Share it but keep the facts as they are !!!! And let not start talking as many pilots when they miss out on their command .... That suddenly the airline is bad etc !
Please do not start giving remarks on my English ok .....
Enjoy the flying , happy landings
highandlow is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.