Transport Body Accused of Rules Breach in Garuda Trial
Airline industry organizations on Friday accused the National Transportation Safety Committee of violating international rules by leaking information from a flight data recorder in the country’s first trial of a pilot over a plane crash.
The committee, or KNKT, allegedly provided information used as evidence by prosecutors in the trial of Marwoto Komar, a Garuda Indonesia pilot, concerning a jetliner crash at Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto International Airport in March 2007 that left 21 dead.
“The KNKT has failed to comply with International Civil Aviation Organization rules by letting the data be used as evidence,” said Stefanus Gerardus, the president of the Garuda Pilots Association.
According to ICAO regulations, an accident investigation report cannot be used to derive culpability.
Gerardus said that his organization had waited to voice its complaint until the prosecutors had made their conclusion, basing it on the flight data.
Led by Mudim Aristo, prosecutors at Yogyakarta’s Sleman District Court have recommended a four-year jail sentence for Marwoto for negligence leading to damage and death. Prosecutors said that the defendant ignored warnings from his co-pilot and alerts from the ground positioning warning system and continued to land the plane despite its high speed.
The Garuda Pilots Association, with the Indonesian Pilots Association, the Indonesian Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Indonesian Airline Technicians Association, has urged the government to establish a council, as required by a 2009 aviation law, to hear cases of pilots involved in air accidents.
The law stipulates that the council should comprise regulators from the Transportation Ministry, civil aviation experts and representatives from the KNKT and the police.
“We are taking our statement to the International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations,” Gerardus said.
Bambang Susantono, the chairman of the Indonesian Transportation Society, said that if there were indications of negligence by the pilot, there should be a “mechanism for handling it.”
“The punishment must be evaluated and given by experts who understand the issues,” Bambang said.
KNKT chairman Tatang Kurniadi said that the committee had the right to publish the final reports of an investigation on its Web site. “Police and prosecutors might have used it to help build a case against Marwoto,” he said, “but that information shouldn’t be used in court.”
Tatang said KNKT officials refused to appear as expert witnesses in the trial, showing that it was obeying international rules.
Kemis Martono, an expert in aviation law, said it was the prosecutors who had violated
regulations. “If Marwoto’s lawyers told the court of this violation of airline regulations as part of their defense, and if the prosecutors have no other evidence, then the charges against Marwoto should be dropped,” he said.