Asia

Two planes in second near miss at Jakarta airport

Garuda pilot forced to abort landing because another plane was still on the runway
Published: 4:00 AM, June 20, 2017

JAKARTA — Two Indonesian passenger planes were involved in a near collision on Sunday at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, the second such incident in three months.

Garuda Indonesia’s Flight GA425 from Denpasar was into its final approach when it had to abort its landing. This was because Sriwijaya Air’s Flight SJ580, which was scheduled to depart for Makassar, was still on the runway.

Ms Louisa Tuhatu, a passenger on Flight GA425, saw her airliner almost hit a Sriwijaya Air plane on the runway before the Garuda pilot aborted the landing. She then shared the news of the near miss on social media.

The Indonesian Flight Navigation Service Institution (AirNav Indonesia) confirmed the incident, saying that a “go-around” order was issued to the Garuda pilot for safety reasons.

A go-around is an aborted landing of an aircraft that is on its final approach. “We had to make the call ordering the Garuda flight to cancel its landing as there was a Sriwijaya Air aircraft that had cancelled its take-off earlier because of technical problems,” The Jakarta Post quoted Mr Didiet K S Radityo, AirNav Indonesia’s corporate secretary, as saying in a statement yesterday.

“We are checking all records and data to retrieve more information regarding the matter,” he added.

AirNav also expressed gratitude to the Garuda pilot for carrying out go-around instructions issued by the air traffic controllers.

A similar incident took place at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in April, and it involved Garuda Indonesia and Sriwijaya Air planes as well.

The Garuda aircraft involved in the April incident was flying in from Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah, and it nearly landed on a runway where another plane operated by Sriwijaya Air was preparing for take-off.

A serious accident was avoided after the airport’s ground control asked the Garuda plane to go-around and abort the landing. Airport authorities immediately relieved the on-duty supervisor and interrogated its air traffic controllers. “It’s my sincere hope that this is the last incident of its kind in Indonesia,” Mr Agus Santoso, the director-general of air transport at Indonesia’s Ministry of Transportation, had said in response to the earlier incident. “Safety is our utmost priority. I apologise to the passengers for any inconvenience we may have caused,” he added.

Indonesia’s air travel industry is booming, with the number of domestic passengers growing significantly in the past decade, but it has a dismal air safety record and reputation for chaotic regulation.

There was a series of hiccups at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport last year, with two minor collisions involving aircraft. There was also an incident of passengers on a flight from Singapore being ferried to the wrong terminal upon arrival in Jakarta, bypassing immigration.

Jakarta is seeking to reclaim control of the Flight Information Region (FIR) above the Riau Islands from Singapore. The FIR around Riau has hitherto been controlled by Singaporean air traffic controllers. Singapore has said that the FIR is not an issue of sovereignty, but of the safety and efficiency of commercial air traffic. AGENCIES