The National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) has started an investigation to find out why a new Lion Air passenger jet missed the runway and ditched into the sea in Bali on Saturday.
Separately, a member of the House of Representatives pointed out that the House has recently warned the country’s largest private airline to pay more attention to human resources, including preventing possible overwork by its crew. But the airline strongly denied such a possibility.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Transportation Ministry air transportation chief Herry Bakti said that the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) was still collecting data about the crash, including passenger and crew statements, official weather reports, log books and flight data from the downed aircraft.
“We don’t want be hasty in determining the cause of the plane crash, as the results of our investigation will serve as a reference for air transportation safety in the future,” Herry said. “We are still investigating by collecting as much data as possible.”
Herry said that preliminary toxicology reports for the pilot, Mahlup Gozali, and his co-pilot, Chiraq Carla, came up clean.
“We have performed urine and blood tests on the pilot and co-pilot from Lion Air on Saturday night. Early findings from the police are negative,” Herry said, adding that investigators would take follicle samples from the crew for more tests.
On Saturday, a Lion Air Boeing 737-800 aircraft traveling from Bandung, West Java, to Bali, ditched into the sea at the end of the runway of Ngurah Rai International Airport in Badung, Bali.
All 108 people on board, including seven crew members, five children and one infant, survived the impact. Forty-six people were taken to local hospitals for their injuries.
While the aircraft’s flight data recorder (FDR) has been secured, KNKT divers have temporarily halted their search for the cockpit voice recorder (CVR).
“We have located the spot of the CVR, but due to strong currents, our divers face difficulties in retrieving it,” Herry said.
Meanwhile, 20 floating drums and 300 meters of rope have been used to keep the broken tail where the CVR is located afloat.
Lion president director Rusdi Kirana made headlines last month when French President Francois Hollande attended a ceremony in Paris where Rusdi signed a massive deal with Airbus to provide 234 narrow-body Airbus A320s worth US$24 billion to the airline.
It was not the first such large procurement that the Lion has made in recent years. Visiting US President Barack Obama witnessed in 2011 the signing of an agreement for Lion Air to buy 230 aircraft worth $21.7 billion from Boeing, making it the US aircraft manufacturer’s largest-ever commercial order.
Commission V chief Laurens Bahang Dama promised a House investigation of the incident.
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