Hello, Sriwijaya Air, where are we?

Picture courtesy Air Netaholic 13/Wikicommons

How’s this for a story? Ninety-five passengers aboard Indonesia’s Sriwijaya Air were in for a surprise when the aircraft landed at Padang’s Tabing instead of Minangkabau airport in western Sumatra. Tabing is a military base, located some 14 kms away.

How did the crew even get the go-ahead to land? The captain was allegedly in contact with air traffic control at Minangkabau airport. Now he and the first officer have been grounded while the incident (which occurred on Oct 13) is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Committee. Traffic officials at Minangkabau airport are also being questioned.

Considering Indonesia’s history of aviation safety incidents, it is only to be expected that the Transportation Ministry has also expressed concern. It noted that the airplane landed in daylight and in good weather conditions. Spokesman Bambang S Ervan told The Jakarta Post: “We are going to audit the airline as a corrective action to improve its safety because this is a serious incident.”

If it was any consolation to the 95 passengers, the aircraft was reported to have made a smooth landing. The passengers were then transferred by coach to Minangkabau airport.

As the Association of Southeast-asian Nations (Asean) – of which Indonesia is a founding member – moves towards full implementation of open skies by 2015, traffic within the region is expected to grow. Secondary destinations may experience an upsurge they are ill=prepared for. It is therefore imperative that safety enhancements are developed and implemented in tandem as part of the liberalization program.

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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