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ICAO praises Garuda’s
‘tremendous improvements’

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is praising flag carrier Garuda Indonesia’s improvements in safety and service in the past four years.

“There have been so many tremendous changes at Garuda, it’s as if I’m visiting a different company this time around,” ICAO president Roberto Kobeh Gonzales told reporters when visiting the Garuda Indonesia Training Center (GITC) in Duri Kosambi, West Jakarta, on Wednesday.

He pointed to the attainment of a four-star rating from British airlines consultancy Skytrax in 2009, and two consecutive IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificates in 2008 and 2010.

Gonzales’ visit to GITC was part of his five-day trip to Indonesia, which ended on Wednesday, to inspect the country’s civil aviation system within the framework of Indonesia’s nomination as ICAO board member for the 2013-2016 period.

It was the second time Gonzales visited Garuda facilities; the first time was in late 2007 to inspect GMF Aero Asia, a unit of Garuda engaged in airplane maintenance, repair and overhaul.

“[My 2007 visit] was during a very difficult situation. At that time, my mission was to talk with high-level aviation officials about the importance of safety, without which, aviation would not be viable. Now, four years later, the situation is completely different,” he said.

“Four years ago, the level of compliance with international airline safety standards in Indonesian airlines was around 50 percent. Now, it has increased to 80 percent.”

During Wednesday’s visit, Gonzales inspected several of Garuda’s air crew training facilities, including a flight attendant class, a mock-up Boeing 747 cabin, a Boeing 737-300/400 flight simulator, and a wet emergency landing drill room. He also had the chance to fly and land a plane in the simulator and to see an emergency landing drill.

He said that he was glad to see Garuda’s improvements in developing comprehensive air crew training facilities.

“Investment in human resources is the best investment for an airplane, as it is related to safety, security, efficiency, service to passengers, and business marketing,” he said, adding that he was very pleased to see good relations between Garuda and civil aviation authorities.

Garuda president director Emirsyah Satar, who accompanied Gonzales during the visit, said human resources were of the utmost importance for the airline.

He added Garuda had launched a Quantum Leap program last year as a way to further the company’s improvements.

The program will see Garuda’s fleet expanding from the current 87 to 153 aircraft by 2015, which will include Boeing 737-800NG and 777-300ER, as well as Airbus A330-200.

“We also look forward to the arrival of two new flight simulators at the end of this year: one of the Boeing B737-800 NG and one of the Airbus A330-200,” Emirsyah said, adding the airline would aim to achieve a five-star Skytrax rating in 2014.

Gonzales visited the Transportation Ministry on Monday, during which he cited eight critical criteria for a country’s aviation system’s worthiness, including airline safety regulations, civil aviation organization, pilot certification, navigation safety, and airport safety.

“Indonesia has fulfilled all criteria,” he said Monday.

Gonzales also visited the state-run Indonesian Aviation Institute (STPI), and state airplane maker PT Dirgantara Indonesia, as part of his itinerarty. (mim)

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