Indonesian investigators have blamed human error as the cause behind the
Sukhoi SuperJet plane crash, which killed all 45 people on board after
it flew into a West Java volcano in May.
Tatang Kurniadi, chief of Indonesia’s National Committee for
Transportation Safety (KNKT), said there were no technical problems with
the plane. He said the Russian crew’s unfamiliarity with the mountains
and the lack of a minimum safe altitude warning system resulted in the
crash into Mount Salak on May 9.
The pilot allegedly failed to react to six warnings from the terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS) on board the plane — which creates
an alert of any possible terrain conflicts.
“The plane crew were not aware of the mountainous condition, which led
to them ignoring a warning system [from the plane],” Tatang told a press
conference in Jakarta on Tuesday, as reported by Indonesian news portal
Tatang explained that the pilot was talking with a potential buyer on
board the plane, and thus failed to immediately shift the direction of
the plane after it released warnings from the TAWS.
KNKT also highlighted the Sukhoi pilot’s failure to comply with minimum
altitudes approved in the instrument flight rules (IFR) for the flight
and minimum safe altitude (MSA) for the air traffic control (ATC) at
Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in East Jakarta — the place where the
SuperJet took off.
The investigators said the minimum off-route altitudes approved in the
IFR was 13,200 feet, but the plane was flying at 10,000 feet.
The MSA’s minimum limit is 6,900 feet within 25 nautical miles (NM) from
Halim, but the ATC approved the Sukhoi pilot’s request to fly at 6,000
feet within the radius.
The plane crashed into Mount Salak at 6,000 feet, 28 NM from the airport.
KNKT said future demonstration flights should stick to the minimum
altitudes approved in the IFR and a flight manifest should be available
at the base — the manifest for the Sukhoi flight was on board the plane
which initially caused confusion over the death toll.
As for Sukhoi, KNKT recommended the Russian aircraft manufacturer
provide special training for crew members before performing
demonstration flights, especially over mountainous terrains.
Last month, Indonesia’s Transportation Ministry validated a certificate
for the Sukhoi SuperJet 100 aircraft to be used as a passenger jet in
Sukhoi said on its website, sukhoi.org, that the certification allowed
it to deliver 12 SuperJet 100s to Indonesian airline Sky Aviation, its
first Southeast Asia customer, between 2012 and 2015. Sky Aviation
agreed to purchase the 12 jets at $380.4 million in June last year.
Sukhoi said it was organizing training for Sky Aviation flight crews.
“Eight pilot completed successfully the SSJ100 Type Rating training, 18
cabin attendants will be trained by the end of December as 12 mechanics
will complete the courses in January 2013,” Sukhoi said.
“The first delivery of the aircrafts are expected by the end of this year after finalization of all the formalities.”
(Updated at 2:40 p.m.)