05 February 2008

Garuda Pilot Arrested

Some might argue that this particular arrest has been a long time in coming. How does someone kill 21 people so publicly and seem to be immune from prosecution. Ahhh, but no more, the police have bitten the bullet on this one and have arrested Captain Marwoto Komar and charged him with manslaughter in the deaths of 21 passengers in the crash that occurred on 7 March 2007. The arrest came at the end of a 10-hour interrogation. They should also charge him with subsidiary offences relating to the greivous bodily harm he did to many other passengers as well.

His lawyers are claiming that pilots of commercial aircraft should not have to face criminal prosecution for mistakes. I disagree. When you assume the controls of a passenger aircraft and you have the lives of 100s of people in your hands there is a reasonable expectation that you will do your job professionally and in a manner that does not endanger the lives of your passengers or crew. A captain that ignores 15 separate warning indicators and attempts to land a commercial aircraft at twice the recommended speed deserves to be punished.

Interestingly, it would seem that the police have been able to secure independent testimony as the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee has said the data contained on the voice recorders and in the black boxes cannot be used in a criminal investigation or prosecution of the Captain. The most likely source of this corroborating evidence is going to be the co-pilot for what was going on in the cockpit at the time. The airforce, who run the Yogyakarta airport (Adi Sucipto), have allowed police to interview air traffic controllers on the proviso that the air traffic controllers are not to become suspects in the investigation. These interviews will also shed some much needed light on what transpired on that fateful day.

The dossier or case file needs to be completed and then handed to the Office of the Public Prosecutor for the purposes of handing down an indictment. This is a case of potentially interesting arguments and one that I will follow so expect some updates as they become available.


Anonymous said...

There's something I don't understand from the point of view of an engineer. No modern airliner will have warning lights telling you NOT to land, let alone 15 warning lights.

If warning lights do light up, this generally means that you need to place the aircraft onto a runway as soon as possible.

I'm worried about the competency of the investigation.

Rob Baiton said...

Thanks for the comment.

I must confess I amnot an engineer and I would generally agree that warning lights would suggest the sooner you land the better. However, I think that the warning lights in this case related to things like airspeed, angle of approach, and the like...

But as I said as updates become available I will post them...

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