Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Adam Air B737-300 fleet grounded

Indonesian carrier Adam Air is in the news again, after all seven of its B737-300 aircraft were grounded by the country's aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Air Communications (DGAC), pending airworthiness inspections. The action came after one of the aircraft was damaged when it made a hard landing in Surabaya yesterday.

'Hard landings' are not uncommon, but this one caused cracking and buckling of the aircraft's fuselage. Flight International published a photo of the damaged aircraft, captured from an Indonesian television broadcast, that shows the aircraft with a buckled mid-fuselage, and its rear section tilted a few degrees lower towards the ground.

An article published in the International Herald Tribune reports that although there were no serious injuries, passengers said the plane came down with such force that baggage compartments burst open, sending luggage flying through the cabin.

A Reuters India report also said that all 148 passengers aboard the aircraft were safe, but that the accident prompted the temporary closure of Juanda Airport in Surabaya, which is Indonesia's second-largest city and the capital of East Java province.

Last week, a press release posted on the Adam Air website announced that carrier was recognized as the Low Cost Carrier Airline of the Year for 2006, at the 3rd Annual Asia, Pacific & Middle East Aviation Outlook Summit. In marked contrast, 2007 has so far been a very bad year for Adam Air, beginning on New Year's Day when one of its B737-400 aircraft vanished during a flight between Surabaya and Manado. Although some debris from the aircraft has been found, and there were reports that the flight data recorder may have been located, there has been no sign of the 96 passengers and 6 crew who were aboard Adam Air flight 574.

Nevertheless, the airline's management has tried to maintain a positive outlook. An article published earlier this month in the International Herald Tribune reported that Adam Air was going forward with plans for expansion. Those plans include acquisition of 10 more B737 aircraft this year, through leasing arrangements. Earlier reports also mentioned possible new routes for the airline. It is still unclear what effect this latest setback will have on those plans.

UPDATE Feb. 26, 2007: Three of Adam Air's grounded 737-300 aircraft have been released to fly again, according to an article from Antara, published on Airport Business. The article reports that "three aircraft met the standard of airworthiness and the three other will also be allowed to resume operation if they are also found to be fit."