The Indonesian government’s efforts to improve its aviation safety reputation has suffered a setback with the May 7 crash of an MA-60 turboprop belonging to Merpati Nusantara Airlines.
MZ8968 crashed Saturday killing all 27 on board (21 passengers and six crew members) when the MA-60 turboprop crashed 600 meters short of the runway at Kaimana Utarom after departing the Sorong airport an hour earlier. The aircraft was attempting to land in poor weather, with heavy rain and strong winds.
The aircraft (registered as PK-MZK) was built by Xian Aircraft last year, Indonesian officials say. The turboprop had logged about 615 flight hours and 764 flight cycles.
Indonesia has been making inroads in improving aviation safety, seeing several airlines removed from the European Union blacklist after the country was subject to a blanket ban in 2007. The FAA, at the time, also sanctioned the country.
But safety problems have persisted.
The European Union points out in its latest blacklist update that Indonesian safety officials notified them in March “that only 9% of the fleet of aircraft operating in Indonesia had yet to be fitted with the required ICAO equipment, that the [regulator] had issued an exemption permitting operations until the end of 2011, and that aircraft not fitted after this date would be grounded.”
Merpati Nusantara Airlines has been in the spotlight more than once. It suffered a runway overrun with a Boeing 737 injuring around 20 people when the aircraft landed in heavy rain at Manokawi Airport in Indonesia’s Papua Province. The airline -- which remains blacklisted by the EU -- also suffered a fatal accident in 2009.
The MA-60 crash is the second accident in Indonesia this year after the death of five persons in the crash of a Casa Aviocar in February at Bintan Island, Indonesia.