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U.S. warns against Indonesian airlines
The United States warned Americans against flying on Indonesian airlines following a string of accidents, saying Tuesday the country’s civil aviation authority did not meet international safety standards.
An Indonesian jetliner plunged into the sea from 33,000 feet on New Year’s Day, killing all 102 people on board. Weeks later, another plane’s fuselage split in half after a hard landing. And last month, a Boeing 737 careened off a runway and burst into flames, leaving 21 dead.
The Indonesian government has since carried out a review of its 20 carriers, concluding that none met all safety requirements. The worst seven were told they had three months to improve their records or face closure.
“Whenever possible, Americans traveling to and from Indonesia should fly directly to their destinations on international carriers from countries whose civil aviation authorities meet international aviation safety standards,” the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta said on its Web site.
It noted that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration lowered its safety rating for Indonesia from Category 1 to 2 — the lowest — this week “due to serious concerns” about oversight.
Dozens of airlines emerged after Indonesia deregulated its aviation industry in the 1990s, raising concerns that growth has outpaced the supply of trained aviation professionals, regulatory oversight and ground infrastructure.
Transport Minister Hatta Radjasa, who has faced calls for his resignation, described the last three months as the most difficult in his life. Ferry sinkings and train crashes under his watch also have killed hundreds.
Radjasa said the country has devised a “road map” to improve aviation safety standards by 2009, including upgrading the radar system to cover 100 percent of the airspace, lengthening emergency runoffs on runways and improving training for safety personnel.
He also promised that accidents would be fully investigated and made public — the flight data recorders in the New Year’s Day crash remain at the bottom of the sea with no attempts yet at recovery — and that sanctions would be handed down if negligence was found.
The three most recent airplane accidents involved Garuda Indonesia, the national carrier, and low-cost carrier Adam Air.