Category: Aviation

Families of ill-fated Lion Air victims still hope for miracle as DNA tests underway

Toni Priyono Adhi still keeps alive his hopes that his daughter Puspita Eka Putri will pick up her phone and answer his calls, although deep down he knows that it is very unlikely.

Putri, who celebrated her 24th birthday in Oct 26, was one of the 189 people on board the Lion Air JT610 flight from Jakarta bound for Pangkal Pinang in Bangka Island which crashed Monday morning into the sea off Karawang in West Java, about 75 kilometers from Jakarta.

“I just keep praying for a miracle. We keep trying to call her and call out her name in case she replies,” Adhi told journalists at the police hospital in East Jakarta where body parts plucked from the crash site were taken and families of the victims are submitting ante mortem data for identification.

Adhi said it was Putri’s first business trip with a beauty products company, that she joined for a month. Her mother, who identified herself as Nuke, said it was Putri’s first flight by herself.

“We always took flights together. I always picked her up in her campus when she was in college. My daughter, she was really beautiful. God had entrusted her to me,” said a visibily shaken Nuke as she held up her daugther’s picture and kissed it.

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Nuke showed the photo of her daughter, Puspita Eka Putri at the police hospital in East Jakarta where she and her husband submitted ante mortem data for Putri’s identification on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. (Photo: The Parrot/Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata)

Imbalo Sakti remembers her brother-in-law, Capt. Musa Effendi as a kind-hearted man whom the family members looked up to.

Sakti said that Effendi, who worked as a portmaster in Muntok port on the western part of Bangka Island, was on his way for a meeting in Pangkal Pinang.

“He had traveled from Medan, North Sumatra, where he had attended a Quran recital in his hometown to give thanks for he and his wife’s safe return from the Hajj two months ago,” Sakti said.

Since there is no direct flight from Medan to Pangkal Pinang, which are about 1,000 kilometers apart, he had to fly to Jakarta and take a connecting flight to Pangkal Pinang.

“My daddy has been posted in Bangka Island for two years. He spent the night at a transit hotel in Jakarta’s airport and took the morning flight to Pangkal Pinang,” Effendi’s daughter Dwi Ratna said.

Anugrah Satria, a frequent Lion Air flyer, said he met Alfiani Hidayatul Solikah during his flights and became friends with the 19-year-old flight attendant.

“It was her first job and it was her wish to become a flight attendant. I met her on one of her first flights as a stewardess on a flight from Jakarta to Yogyakarta,” Satria said.

“She was always nice to passengers, and smiled a lot. She never complained about her job,” Satria said.

The captain pilot of the brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane, which had only 800 flying hours since its initial operation on Aug 15, was an Indian from New Delhi, Bhavye Suneja.

Media reports said he was a trainee pilot with Emirates before joining Lion Air in March 2011.

The Indian Embassy in Jakarta confirmed the pilot’s nationality in a tweet, saying that “most unfortunate that Indian Pilot Bhavye Suneja who was flying JT610 also lost his life…Embassy is in touch with Crisis Center and coordinating for all assistance.”

A number of Indonesian officials were also on board the flight, with the Finance Ministry having lost 21 officials, out of whom 12 were from the tax directorate general, who were on commuting back to their post in Pangkal Pinang.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani visited police hospital and met with the grief-stricken families of her staff on Monday night to console them.

The ministry’s head of communications, Nufransa Wira Sakti, said in a statement that they were officials at the ministry’s Pangkal Pinang office.

“They were heading back to their work after spending the weekend to attend a ministry event on Oct 27 and to attend a coordination meeting, while also spending the weekend with their families in Jakarta,” Sakti said.

Also among the victims were three police personnel from Bangka Belitung police, three staff from the oil and gas directorate general of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, 10 staff from the State Audit Agency, six regional lawmakers of Bangka Belitung province, and four employees of the state-mining company, PT Timah.

Following the crash, Australia issued a warning to ban all Australian government officials and contractors from flying Lion Air or their subsidiary airlines and the decision will be reviewed when the findings of the crash investigation are clear.

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Police forensic team lay out debris recovered from Lion Air JT 610 crash site at the Tanjung Priok port on Tuesday, Oct 30, 2018 (Photo: The Parrot/Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata)

As of Tuesday afternoon, search efforts to collect debris from the plane are still under way with vessels sailing back and forth to Jakarta’s Tanjung Priok port to drop bags containing plane debris and body parts the search and rescue teams collected from the crash site, while police forensic teams continued sorting out the debris and personal belongings of the passengers on the dock.

The search and rescue agency’s deputy director for operations, Nugroho Budi said they have sent 13 body bags to the police hospital from Tuesday’s operation and found 52 national identity cards.

“The search and rescue team will expand the search area to a radius of 15 nautical miles from the crash site,” Budi said in a press conference.

Head of medical and health of the national police, Arthur Tampi, said the forensic team had examined 24 body bags and identified 87 body parts.

Tampi added that they had not been able to identify any of the victims as they received only body parts and none of the bodies were intact.

“The bodies have deteriorated in pieces and some of the bones were loose. I even saw parts of an infant body in one of the body bags,” Ari Dono, deputy of the national police chief said after an inspection to the police hospital morgue.

The story was first published in Arab News

 

Indonesian military TNI to welcome two Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets this year

The Indonesian military is expected to welcome two Sukhoi Su-35 “Flanker-E” to its combat aircraft fleet in October, after signing a contract to buy the fighter jets from Russia.

A spokesman for the Defense Ministry, Brig. Gen. Totok Sugiharto confirmed that the contract for 11 multirole combat aircrafts was signed in Jakarta on Feb. 14.

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Sukhoi Su-35. Photo: Sukhoi.org

Rear Adm. Agus Setiadji, head of defense facilities agency at the ministry, signed on behalf of the Indonesian government with a representative from Russia’s state-owned defense product broker, Rosoboronexport.

The first two fighter jets are expected to arrive in early October, said Totok, in time to take part in the TNI parade to celebrate armed forces day on Oct. 5. TNI is the Indonesian acronym for the Indonesian Armed Forces.

“The Sukhoi jets would replace the existing F5-E Tiger jet fighters fleet,” he added.

The contract, worth $1.140 billion, was finalized following negotiations that started in 2017. It includes the signing of a bilateral deal in Moscow in August to barter coffee, tea, palm oil, cacao, spices and the commodities’ derivatives, processed fish and textiles as well as Indonesia’s defense products with the Sukhoi fleet. Indonesian state trading company PT Perusahaan Perdagangan Indonesia and Russian state conglomerate Rostec will be the agencies implementing the barter trade.

The part-barter deal will allow Indonesia to pay 50 percent of the Sukhoi jet fighter contract by exporting its commodities valued at $570 million, Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said in August at a joint press conference with Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu.

“With this barter deal, Indonesia can export more commodities that we have exported before, as well as the ones that we didn’t get to export previously,” Enggartiasto said.

Under Indonesia’s defense industry law, the procurement contract for defense equipment from foreign producer is subject to at least 35 percent offset requirements. Russia has said that it will provide 35 percent offset from the contract value by providing a training for maintenance and repair of the Sukhoi fleet.

In October, then-military chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said in accordance to request from the air force, that the Sukhoi jets will be equipped with air-to-air missile, air-to-ground missile, bombs, ground support equipment, simulator, spare parts and spare engines.

The Indonesian Air Force already has a full squadron of Sukhoi Su-27 SKM and Su-30 Mk2 jets.

Since the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is President Joko Widodo’s predecessor, Indonesia has been significantly increasing its defense budget to modernize its aging Armed Forces fleet and equipment and rejuvenate its defense industry.

Its spending on military equipment aims to meet the minimum essential force target by 2024 or the bare minimum of primary defense equipment to safeguard the country’s vast archipelago.

This article first appeared in Arab News

Indonesian pilots see the sky is limited

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Students train to fly an aircraft at the state-owned Indonesian Aviation Institute (STPI) in Curug, Banten. Photo courtesy of STPI

The Indonesian transportation ministry plans to kick off development of new airports in 13 locations from 2017 to 2019 to meet Indonesia’s growing appetite for infrastructure and to increase the number of people using air transport for domestic and international travel. Continue reading “Indonesian pilots see the sky is limited”

Rescuers found wreckage of crashed police plane

Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency (Basarnas) said on Sunday that it has found the wreckage of a police plane that crashed in the waters off Lingga Island of Riau Islands province.

“We have found the plane’s wreckage at 24 meters deep just before the rescue operation was called off at 5 pm. It’s about three meters long,”  agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo said in a live interview with news broadcaster TV One.

“We didn’t find more human remains, but we have better chances to find more now that we discovered the wreckage,” he added.

The M28 Skytruck plane was carrying 13 police officers – three pilots, two mechanics and eight passengers – to Batam Island near Singapore from Pangkal Pinang when it lost contact just before noon at 5,000 feet on Saturday.

The plane lost contact with air traffic controller at 40 nautical mile southeast of Tanjung Pinang in Belitung Island.

Earlier in the day, Soelistyo told a press conference that rescuers have found parts of human remains. The remains were stored in three body bags and have been handed over the body bags to the police for identification.

The site where the plane has plunged 24 meter deep into the waters has been marked by a buoy.

Fishermen discovered plane debris at around 2.30 pm on Saturday and later in the day, search and rescue team identified the crash location from the bubbles believed to be from the plane’s fuel.

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Rescuers retrieved debris from crashed police plane. Photo: Basarnas

Among the items retrieved from the waters were a tire of a plane, a piece of an airplane upholstery and the plane’s red box and manual box. Photos from the agency also showed rescuers retrieving parts of police uniforms and photos of police officers.

Two warships and two Singaporean aircrafts were among the 15 vessels helping with the search-and-rescue mission, alongside 300 personnel including divers, across a 200-nautical-mile search area, Soelistyo added.

“We will continue the main rescue operation for seven days, but we will evaluate it after the first three days, which is the critical part,” he said.

 

Helicopter crash survivor held up by water hyacinth in Lake Toba

A man was found alive two days after a helicopter crashed into Lake Toby in North Sumatra, held up by a dense mat of water hyacinth, a search official said Tuesday. Continue reading “Helicopter crash survivor held up by water hyacinth in Lake Toba”

Garuda flight attendant injured after wine chiller explodes mid-air

A flight attendant was severely injured when an on-board wine chiller exploded during a Garuda Indonesia flight, the airline said.

The plane was flying with 186 passengers from Melbourne to Jakarta on Saturday when the incident occurred, Garuda spokesman Benny Butarbutar said.

“There was a small explosion in the galley in the middle of the plane but it did not disrupt the flight,” which landed on time in Jakarta, he said.

The spokesman said it was not clear what caused the explosion and no passenger was hurt.

A flight attendant was injured when a pantry panel was blown off and hit her in the face, Butarbutar said.

She was in intensive care after surgery, he said.

Counter-terrorism agency monitoring two pilots over alleged support for Islamic State

Indonesia’s counter-terrorism agency said it had been monitoring two pilots for six months over their apparent support for Islamic State. Continue reading “Counter-terrorism agency monitoring two pilots over alleged support for Islamic State”