TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Sriwijaya Air crash must lead to improvements in aviation safety. There must be no relaxation of regulations that could put safety at risk.
THE government and national airlines must immediately evaluate safety standards to prevent further plane crashes. The accident involving the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 aircraft once again led to questions being asked about our aviation safety, particularly concerning the seriousness of airlines and regulators in overseeing aspects of flight safety.
The Sriwijaya Air airplane registered PK-CLC crashed in the waters around the Thousand Islands, Jakarta, four minutes after taking off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Banten bound for Pontianak, West Kalimantan, on Saturday, January 9. The airplane was destroyed in the crash and the 50 passengers and 12 crew all died. The search for components of the airplane, including the black boxes containing important data, is still continuing, as is the search for the bodies.
Although the cause of the accident is not yet known, public confidence and trust in the safety of the national aviation industry have been severely eroded. Since the crash of AirAsia flight QZ8591 in 2014 and that of Lion Air JT-610 in 2018, many people have come to doubt the operational capabilities of national airlines, particularly the low-cost carrier segment. The National Transportation Safety Commission said that the AirAsia crash was caused by a problem with the airplane controls, while the Lion Air accident was the result of mechanical factors, the airplane design, and incomplete information, all of which adversely affected the ability of the pilot.
Therefore, it is understandable that the public suspects the Sriwijaya Air accident was also the result of our poor aviation safety oversight standards. It has also come to light that two of the passengers had different names from those on the flight manifest. Once again, although it is not certain that there is any link between this and the cause of the accident, this shows poor oversight. Airlines have been caught trying to get around regulations in force. As a result, the government must once again improve aviation oversight procedures. The move by the transportation ministry to order checks of the Boeing 737-300, 737-400, and 737-500 airplanes used by 10 national airlines should be appreciated. This is important to uncover any operational problems with aircraft over 25 years old. Although aircraft age is not always the determining factor in airworthiness, these repeated inspections will show whether these aircraft are still fit to fly.
In order to improve safety, the government must also revoke a number of regulations that relaxed aviation safety standards. One of them is Article 118 of Law No. 11/2020 on job creation that removed the obligation for monthly flight operation reports, which was previously mandated by Aviation Law No. 1/2009. These reporting procedures are one means of oversight.
Another strange regulation is the determination of the maximum age of aircraft set at 20 years from the date of registration in Indonesia, not from the time planes left the factory. This regulation is contained within Transportation Ministerial Decision No. 115/2020. This rule allows for the entry into Indonesia of aircraft more than 20 years old that may no longer be safe to operate. Matters are made worse if inspectors on the ground collide with aircraft owners.
Because of the strategic nature of the aviation industry, the government and airlines must implement the best standards. Safety and the best possible service must be the priority, not simply business interests. There is no other way to safeguard trust in the aviation industry, which involves people's lives.
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