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Fri, Feb 29, 2008

Pilot In 2007 Garuda Landing Accident Resigns

Was Presented With Ultimatum, Says Attorney

The first Indonesian airline pilot to face criminal charges related to an airliner accident has now also lost his job. An attorney for Captain Marwoto Komar says his client was presented with a choice to either resign as a captain for Garuda Indonesia Airlines, or be fired.

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald says Komar will be charged with negligence for his role the March 7, 2007 crash in Yogyakarta. As ANN reported, investigators determined Komar became "fixated" with landing, and ignored 15 alarms and verbal warnings from his co-pilot, warning he was too fast on final approach.

Komar now is free on bail, after his arrest earlier this month. His arrest was a controversial move in the eyes of several international pilot groups, which feared Komar's arrest sets a dangerous precedent, and opens the door for other commercial pilots to be held criminally liable for accidents.

Indonesian authorities may have felt pressured to make an example of the pilot in response to worldwide pressure to improve the country's abysmal airline industry safety record. But aviation regulators worldwide urged Indonesia to reconsider, saying criminal charges for pilots will only suppress reporting of safety issues in the future.

To be fair, there seems to have been lots of negligence to go around in this case.

After the airliner flown by Komar touched down at 255 knots, it overshot the end of the runway -- which was too short for the plane under international standards. It also came to light that Komar may have resisted his co-pilot's pleas to abort the landing because he was paid a bonus by Garuda for conserving fuel.

And after the plane came to a stop in a rice field 300 feet past the end of the runway and exploded in flames, the airport's firefighting equipment reportedly took an hour to reach it and extinguish the blaze.

FMI: www.garuda-indonesia.com/, www.dephub.go.id/knkt/ntsc_home/ntsc.htm

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