Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lion Air MD-90s grounded after accident at Jakarta

Indonesia's Ministry of Transportation has grounded all MD-90 aircraft operated by Lion Air, following the carrier's most recent accident.  Lion Air had a fleet of five MD-90s, however two already are out of service due to damage incurred in recent accidents.

On the afternoon of March 9, 2009, Lion Air Flight JT-793, reportedly skidded off a runway at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport as it was arriving from Makassar, South Sulawesi, in heavy rains. It came to a rest in the grass beside the runway, with damage to its landing gear and cracks in a wing. No injuries were reported among the six crew members and 168 passengers on board.

Another  Lion Air MD-90 landing accident occurred on February 24, 2009 at Batam’s Hang Nadim Airport after that aircraft's nose gear failed to deploy.  There were no casualties.

Apparently there has been some concern in Indonesia about the age of Lion Air's MD-90s, which have been in service since 1989. However, at least one Indonesian official seems to have a clearer perspective on the problem. The Jakarta Globe reports that Herry Bhakti Singayuda, the new director general of civil aviation for Indonesia's Ministry of Transportation, said that the physical condition of the MD-90s and Lion Air’s maintenance procedures for all of its aircraft would be investigated.
“It’s not a matter of old planes and new ones,” he said. “It is a matter of airworthiness.”
The Jakarta Globe also quoted Emirsyah Satar, chairman of the Indonesia National Air Carriers Association, who blamed the recent string of commercial aircraft accidents in Indonesia on aviation regulators who are not strict enough.
“We have always pushed for safety compliance within our association, including Lion Air,” Satar said. “Safety and compliance is the top priority and we will not compromise on that.”