Accountability

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  • People watch as a section of the tail of  AirAsia QZ8501 passenger plane is lifted off a ship and onto the back of a truck, the day after it was lifted from the seabed, in Kumai Port, near Pangkalan Bun, central Kalimantan (1/11). REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

    People watch as a section of the tail of AirAsia QZ8501 passenger plane is lifted off a ship and onto the back of a truck, the day after it was lifted from the seabed, in Kumai Port, near Pangkalan Bun, central Kalimantan (1/11). REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - It is high time for the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) to look into all possibilities regarding the cause of the AirAsia PK-AXC QZ8501 crash, which plunged into the Karimata Strait on December 28 last year. The black box containing a recording of the conversation in the cockpit during the flight has been recovered. The condition of that Airbus 320 produced in 2008 should also be investigated.

    Tempo found that some important components of the plane were damaged. The routine inspection documents reported to the pilot noted that there had been trouble with the auto flight rudder travel limiter, located in the rear of the aircraft since December 12, 2014.

    The plane's elevator actuator model was also damaged. Indication of damage was obtained from data recorded by the air traffic control radar, which recorded the AirAsia flight climbing to an altitude of 5,700 feet in 45 seconds before descending to 2,400 feet. This ascent is not normal, as it exceeds the ability of a fighter jet, which needs a minute to climb to 6,000 feet.

    With such important findings, that AirAsia aircraft should not have been cleared for its flight. Apparently, this budget airline still has a flight certificate from the supervisory officials at the Directorate of Aircraft Flight Worthiness and Operation. There is no record confirming the need for repairs to the damaged equipment.

    In the course of its duties, the Flight Worthiness Directorate assigns two of its personnel, a principal operation inspector and a principal maintenance inspector, to each airline. It was found that these two personnel were unqualified for their duties. Because the directorate was short of staff, it employed workers who did not meet the required technical qualifications.

    Supervision is often rife with deceit and coverups. The string of incidents in the history of Indonesian aviation is an indication of how long things have gone on this bad. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), in its audit of May 2014, gave red marks due to the high level of non-compliance with regulations in flight readiness supervision in Indonesia.

    Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan must hand out stern punishment if the KNKT's investigation finds elements of supervisory negligence on the part of AirAsia. Furthermore, Minister Jonan must overhaul the Directorate of Air Transportation. Strategic positions in the supervision of aircraft flight readiness need to be filled by experienced people with the appropriate educational backgrounds. If not, we could be looking at more aviation-related accidents. (*)