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Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Ok, now that I've got the troubling bits off my chest, here's what really irks me about the recent string of disasters.

In the recent past, Indonesia has seen its share of ferry and air disasters. The recurrence of these incidents puts the entire question of the will to change things in the spotlight.

The country's flight safety record had come under renewed scrutiny when an Adam Air Boeing 737-400 crashed into the sea off the island of Sulawesi on New Year's Day. That air tragedy is bound to be best remembered for the series of conflicting reports it generated. Of the 102 people on board, no survivors were found. Only small fragments of the plane as well as the black box, washed up.

The following month, the fuselage of another Adam Air plane cracked during a hard landing. It caused what appeared to be a massive vertical split, leaving the rear section of the plane hanging downwards. Fortunately, none of the 148 passengers and six crew were injured.

Following that incident, Indonesian authorities grounded all Boeing 737-300 aircraft operated by Adam Air.

Is it likely to do the same for national carrier Garuda whose plane crashed this time? After all the airline has suffered 14 fatal accidents in its history. These include an incident in September 1997, when a Garuda Airbus A300 -- flying from Jakarta, crashed near Medan airport killing all 222 passengers and 12 crew members on board.

Just last month, a flight bound for Semarang collided with a Saudi Arabian Airlines at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta. Though all 96 passengers survived.

The steady stream of accidents and safety scares involving Indonesian airlines, forced President Yudhoyono to form a team to evaluate and improve transport safety. Its recommendations and more importantly their implementation would go a long way in restoring confidence in the country's carriers. Hopefully, it won't be too late.

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