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An A to Z of Indonesian civil aviation: A reflection

4 Januari 2013   04:41 Diperbarui: 24 Juni 2015   18:32 246
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The air transportation business in Indonesia is flourishing. The industry has seen a span of 10-15 percent in yearly growth average across the board. Further, it is predicted to grow by 25 percent in the next couple of years.

Unfortunately, the government fails to seize the momentum and maximize the huge amount of income available from the aviation business. While on the other hand, the growth of national air transport is far beyond the current aviation infrastructure and the education of pilots, cabin crew and engineers.

By the end of 2012 I noted that there were, at least, two aviation incidents that drew wide-range public attention: The shutdown of the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) at Soekarno Hatta International Airport, which has been over capacity for the last three to five years, and resulted in a radar blackout for about 15 minutes. The other incident was the investigation in to the Sukhoi Super Jet 100 (SSJ-100) fatal crash in Mount Salak, Bogor, West Java.

It is hard to believe the explanation of state airport operator, PT Angkasa Pura, regarding the UPS shutdown. The official statement said that the UPS was outdated and had been used for 15 years, which reflects the Indonesian working ethic of “react and repair”.

Generally speaking, we have not paid close enough attention to that principle issue — safety. For instance, the capacity of Soekarno-Hatta Airport is only 23 million passengers annually whereas in 2011, 51.5 million — or double the capacity — were recorded! The government should have taken action to prevent incidents.

The management seems to be not only unable to take care of airborne passengers but also the road traffic in and around the airport, which is worsening day by day. They should have come up with a solution.

These dreadful conditions could have actually been addressed promptly had the government followed and upheld Law No. 1/2009 on aviation. One of the mandates of the law, which should have been put into action two years after the law was issued, is to merge the management of the air traffic control (ATC) services into one comprehensive system, called a “single provider”.

Consequently, PT Angkasa Pura would have had no more dealings with ATC services and air navigation support. However, the government has not taken any action to implement the law.

Referring to the findings of the investigation into the Sukhoi SJ-100 crash, it clearly stated a number of failures by air traffic controllers at that time. It stated that there was no “warning system” toward the terrain in the Bogor area. Furthermore, there was only one controller in charge at that time, without assistants or supervisors sitting with him. He was not only in charge but also supervising 15 planes at one time.

The controller only noticed the plane had disappeared from the radar 24 minutes after the last contact. He was also unaware that he was guiding a commercial plane; he had assumed that the Sukhoi was a military jet — the type regularly used to fly a normal route in the Bogor area.

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