Indonesia suspends operation of MD-90 plane 2009-03-11 16:47:22   Print

    JAKARTA, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Indonesian Transport Ministry has grounded all McDonnell Douglas MD-90 operated by budget airline of Lion Airline following two accidents in two weeks, Transport Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal said here Wednesday.

    The accidents came as Indonesia is struggling to improve air safety, expecting the European Union to lift its travel ban on Indonesia in March or July.

    Minister Djamal said that investigation on the planes would be carried out by the National Transportation Safety Committee (Komisi Nasional Keselamatan Transportasi or KNKT).

    "Starting from today the MD-90 can not operate for three or four days," he told reporters at the Vice Presidential Office here.

    On Monday, one of the MD-90 plane with 166 passengers on board skid off one of the runway when it landed at Jakarta international airport amid the rainy and windy situation, but no casualties was reported.

    On Feb. 23, another Lion Air's plane of MD-90 also skidded off runaway without front tire when landed at Batam air Port near Singapore. All 156 passengers on board were safe, but nine people were in shock after the accident.

    The minister admitted that recently the officials from European Union have said that Indonesia was still weak in surveillance aspect.

    "Last week, they saw one of weaknesses in implementing the law of aviation, it is the surveillance," said Djamal.

    In 2004, 26 people were killed when a Lion Air MD-82 plane skidded off a runway in the central Java city of Solo.

    Lion Air, is a budget airline, which is the only airliner operating MD-90s planes in Indonesia.

    European Union has forbidden 51 Indonesian airliners, including the country's leading carrier Garuda, from entering its territory since July 6, 2007 following a rampant air accident that killed more than 250 people. EU extended the ban in November last year in Brussels.

    With the help of the EU, Indonesia has made improvements on its flight safety standards.

    The country's parliament on Dec. 17 passed a new regulation on aviation with stricter safety standards. The new rules were hailed by the EU, Djamal said.

    Air accidents in Indonesia plunged in recent years when compared with three years ago.

    Taking airplanes is a favorite transport mean in the sprawling archipelago country with over 230 million population. 

Editor: Lu Yanan
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