A journalist from Angkasa magazine has denied that his two colleagues who were onboard the Sukhoi Superjet 100 plane had their cell phones switched on during its demonstration flight on Wednesday.
Gatot Rahardjo said Friday that he tried to reach his colleagues, Didik Nur Yusuf and Dody Aviantara, immediately after the company heard about the accident at around 5 p.m. on the same day. The accident took place at around 3:20 p.m.
“I personally called our two [Angkasa] journalists on Wednesday at 5 p.m. but their phones were already off at that time,” he said as quoted by tribunnews.com.
Through its Twitter account, @Angkasa_Magz, Angkasa also denied that their journalists’ cell phones were active.
“We have checked with an operator and received information that the signal of a cell phone number belonging to Dody Aviantara was last active at 2:16 p.m. at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport,” Angkasa said via the microblogging website.
The company said that rumors saying its two journalists’ cell phones were active could not be substantiated and were untrue.
Angkasa editor Dudi Sudibyo earlier said he could connect to the Angkasa journalists’ cell phones at the time of the accident, but got no answer.
“The last time we tried to contact them was at 5 p.m. [on Wednesday]. The tone was there, but there was no answer,” Dudi said on Wednesday as quoted by detik.com.
Dudi did not respond to The Jakarta Post’s questions about the truth of his previous statement.
As rescue and recovery efforts are still underway, the cause of the Russia-made aircraft’s crash remains unclear.
Reports that cell phone signal interfere with an airplane’s avionic systems during flight to a degree that such interference might result in plane crash have been largely unsubstantiated by research.
However, exact conditions are difficult to replicate in laboratory settings, and as a safety precaution, passengers are always advised to switch off their cell phones and other personal electronic devices. (mtq)