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Jakarta Post

Regulator may ground Merpati'€™s MA60 fleet

  • Nurfika Osman

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, June 13, 2013   /  10:35 am

The Transportation Ministry is currently conducting a special audit of PT Merpati Nusantara Airlines (Merpati) after its Chinese-made Xian MA60 twin turboprop aircraft made a hard landing in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, on Monday.

The ministry'€™s spokesman Bambang S. Ervan said the audit would not only cover the safety and airworthiness of the ill-fated plane but also the management, maintenance and human resource development in the state-run aviation company.

'€œThe [ministry'€™s] directorate general of civil aviation is fully auditing Merpati in order to determine the cause of the accident before deciding what corrective actions we should take with the airline. We'€™re even checking the log books of every [MA60] plane they operate,'€ Bambang told The Jakarta Post.

Log books are the records of operational activities and problems that may have occurred in the aircraft during operations.

One of actions the ministry may take is to ground all MA60 aircraft operated by Merpati in order to
prevent similar accidents.

'€œAn airline business is all about safety. We will never tolerate any plane flying that does not comply with airworthiness principles. Thus, we need a comprehensive audit,'€ he went on, adding that the audit might take up to a month.

The plane was involved in two separate accidents in Indonesia and Myanmar on Monday.

A Xian MA60 operated by Myanma Airlines swerved off the runway in Kawthaung, in southeastern Myanmar. Myanma Airways administration manager Hla Htay Aung told Reuters on Tuesday that, unlike in Indonesia, the airline had grounded its three Xian MA60s for the time being.

Contacted separately, Merpati vice president of communications Herry Saptanto said that the Chinese plane was airworthy and complied with the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR).

He said that the airline had 13 MA60s with eight of the planes in operation. '€œWe hope the authority does not ground the MA60s because they are safe and we have never expected any accident. Besides, it will hurt our business because they account for almost half of our total fleet,'€ he said.

The debt-ridden firm has 31 planes: 13 MA60s, 11 Boeing 737s, five Twin Otters and two Cassa 212s. The MA60s fly in East Nusa Tenggara, Maluku and southern Sulawesi.

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