Camelia Pasandaran & Aidi Yursal
The government suspended Nusantara Buana Air operations on Tuesday after one of its airplanes crashed in North Sumatra last week, killing all 18 people on board.
“Following the results of our evaluation, the ministry has decided to suspend NBA’s license starting today,” Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said.
He said that all of the airline’s passenger carriers would be grounded.
“We have found that NBA did not meet all the flight regulations,” Bambang said. “We decided to suspend all its flights to all destinations until it shows that it has met the regulations.”
He said that a team from the ministry had conducted an evaluation of both the accident and the carrier’s operational system.
Bambang said the company’s aircraft were all in good condition and declined to give details of the problems the team encountered with the airline.
NBA operates nine aircraft, six of them CASA planes that serve routes in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Meanwhile, Medan-based NBA manager Robur confirmed that the company had received a letter, signed by director general for air transportation Herry Bakti, notifying it that its operations were suspended.
“It was not specified how long the suspension will be,” Robur was quoted as saying by Antara news agency. He said the company’s management would comply.
He said the company employed some 150 people.
The Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) deployed two helicopters to evacuate 62 members of the search and rescue operation that was sent to the CASA 212-200 crash site in North Sumatra’s Langkat district last week, an official said on Tuesday.
Ajis from the North Sumatra chapter of the Search and Rescue Agency said the difficult terrain meant the search and rescue team had to be airlifted from the crash site.
Airlifting the team members began at 7 a.m. and took about five hours, he said.
“Thank God, it proceeded smoothly without any problems because the weather was good and there was neither rain or fog,” Ajis said.
He added that the 18 victims of the crash, whose bodies were only retrieved four days after the crash because of the difficult terrain and bad weather, had also been evacuated by helicopter because a journey by land would have taken too long.
North Sumatra police spokesman Taliono said there were 27 police officers among the 62 members of the search and rescue team on site, adding that they had reached the area by road.
Just as with the evacuation of the bodies of the crash victims, the search and rescue personnel were first airlifted to Bahorok and then proceeded some 100 kilometers further to Medan by land, he said.
The NBACASA 212-200 turbo prop plane left Medan’s Polonia airport early on Thursday, bound for Kutacane in Southeast Aceh. It went missing some 35 minutes later as it was flying over the mountainous terrain in Langkat district.
After the plane was discovered, initial reports that it was mostly intact fueled hopes the 18 people onboard might be rescued alive. When it was revealed that all had been killed, victims’ family members criticized the rescue, saying a faster response might have saved lives.