Fuel system foul-up blamed for latest Susi Air crash in Kalimantan
Fuel problems are thought to be behind the crash of a Susi Air aircraft that killed two en route from Balikpapan to Kutai Kartanegara, East Kalimantan.
The aircraft was conducting a mining survey when it lost contact with Balikpapan Airport five hours after take-off.
“The pilot told air-traffic controllers that the aircraft suffered technical glitches in its fuel system before completely losing contact at around 5 p.m. local time,” Susi Air owner Susi Pudjiastuti told media in Jakarta on Thursday.
The victims were identified as pilot Jonathan Willis of South Africa and Ian Russell McDougall, an Australian surveyor working for PT Surtech.
Their bodies were taken to Harapan Insan Sendawar Hospital in West Kutai and will be transported to Jakarta for autopsies.
A search-and-rescue team comprising officers from the Melak Police and the East Kalimantan Mobile Brigade special operations unit located the crash site and the bodies of Willis and McDougall around midnight near Muara Ritan village in Tabang subdistrict.
McDougall’s body was removed from the wreckage of the plane on Thursday afternoon, according to Harmoniady, the head of the Balikpapan office of the National Search and Rescue Agency.
“The removal and evacuation of the pilot’s body from the wreckage was relatively easy,” he said as
reported by Antara news wire.
Kasiadi, the operations manager of Sepinggan Airport, said that an employee of Susi Air received a text message sent from the plane before it crashed.
“When trying to land, one of the victims managed to send a short notice to a colleague at Susi Air telling him that they were about to make an emergency landing,” he said.
The crash is the second air accident in East Kalimantan this year, following a Batavia Air jet bound for China that skidded off the runway at Sepinggan Airport in March.
Susi said that she was shocked to hear of the deaths and that the aircraft was manufactured in 2009 and had logged only 2,000 flying hours.
“We are still waiting for a thorough investigation by KNKT [National Committee for Transportation Safety],” Susi said.
Separately, KNKT air transportation safety head Masruri said that an investigation was underway.
“We sent two investigators and a maintenance engineer to the site to collect data and later investigate the crash,” Masruri told the Post.
The KKNT has another two pending investigations involving Susi Air aircraft dating to September, when two of the airline’s planes crashed into mountainous terrain in Papua.
Masruri said that human error and the difficult terrain were likely behind all the crashes.
“Flying a plane in a mountainous area is difficult and sometimes pilots underestimate the conditions,” he said. (nfo)
— Sukmaraga Sofyan