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Garuda Pilot Faces Life In Prison For March 2007 Overrun

Prosecutors Want Harshest Sentence Available

The pilot of a Garuda Indonesia Airlines Boeing 737 that crashed on landing in March 2007 may face life in prison if prosecutors have their way.

The Daily Telegraph reports Indonesian police sent a 200-page brief to the court Monday in the case of Marwoto Komar. The documentation included 19 pieces of evidence; submittal of the brief is a sign Komar will soon be brought up on formal charges.

Komar was the captain of a Boeing 737-400 that overshot the runway on landing at Yogyakarta airport in central Java, and slid into a rice field. The aircraft burst into flames, killing 21 people, while 119 others were able to escape through the exits of the burning jet in the March 7, 2007 accident.

Investigators later disclosed Komar ignored repeated warnings -- both from cockpit alarms, and the flight's co-pilot -- that the jet was coming in for landing much too fast. Cockpit recordings indicated the co-pilot had repeatedly called for the captain to abort the landing, and go-around. As ANN reported, police arrested Komar in February... but he was later released, pending formal charges.

In its final report on the crash, released in October 2007, Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) found the pilot was "singing" during the approach, below 10,000 feet and prior to reaching 4,000 feet, which was "not in accordance with the Garuda Basic Operations Manual policy for a sterile cockpit below 10,000 feet.

"The pilot was probably emotionally aroused because his conscious awareness moved from the relaxed mode "singing" to the heightened stressfulness of the desire to reach the runway by making an excessively steep and fast, unstable approach," the report said, adding the pilot was "fixated" on landing the aircraft.

Komar resigned from Garuda in the aftermath of the crash, following a 22-year career with the airline. A number of international pilots groups have decried any criminal action against Komar, saying the case could establish a dangerous precedent for any commercial pilot involved in a fatal accident.

The pilot's attorney, Kamal Firdaus, said Monday Komar wants to have the case behind him. "Marwoto and I are glad that this case will be tried in court so there will be clarity," Firdaus said.

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

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