The disappearance of an AirAsia jet en route from Indonesia to Singapore on Sunday is the latest of many recent air incidents for Indonesia. The sprawling archipelago nation of 250 million people is one of Asia’s most rapidly expanding airline markets, but is struggling to provide enough qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety.
Here’s a look at some of the other aviation incidents in Indonesia over the past 20 years.
APRIL 2013: A brand new Boeing 737-800 operated by Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air crashes off the Indonesian resort island of Bali, slamming into the ocean short of the runway while attempting to land in the rain. All 108 people on board survived, and there were no serious injuries. It was Lion Air’s seventh accident since 2002.
MAY 2012: A Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet-100 slams into a volcano during a demonstration flight in Indonesia, killing all 45 people on board. Information recovered from the plane’s cockpit-voice and flight data recorders indicated the pilot in command was chatting with a potential buyer in the cockpit just before the plane slammed into dormant Mount Salak in West Java province.
JANUARY 2007: A Boeing 737 operated by Indonesia’s Adam Air vanishes on New Year’s Day on a domestic flight from Surabaya to Manado with 102 people aboard. Parts of the tail and other debris are found several days later, but it would take nearly nine months for the flight-data and cockpit recorders to be recovered. The fuselage is still on the ocean floor.
SEPTEMBER 2005: A flight from Indonesia’s now-defunct Mandala Airlines is headed from Medan in north Sumatra to Bali when the plane crashes into a heavily populated residential area seconds after taking off, killing 149 people. The fatalities included 100 people aboard the plane and 49 on the ground. Seventeen people on the plane survived.
DECEMBER 1997: All 104 people onboard are killed when a plane operated by Singapore-based SilkAir crashes into the Musi River in southern Sumatra en route from Jakarta to Singapore. U.S. investigators said that the pilot probably crashed on purpose, but an Indonesian investigation was inconclusive.
SEPTEMBER 1997: An Airbus A300 operated by national carrier Garuda Indonesia crashes while approaching Medan Airport, killing all 234 people aboard. The plane, which had taken off from Jakarta, crashed into a mountainous, wooded area in low visibility.
JANUARY 1995: A flight operated by Indonesia-based Merpati Nusantara Airlines disappears over open water while flying between islands in the archipelago nation. The de Havilland Twin Otter 300 with 14 passengers and crew was never found.
[From Skift: AirAsia had a clean safety record until now, although the low cost airline’s Indonesian affiliate was banned from flying to the EU for a couple of years through July 2010.
AirAsia flight 8501, en route from Indonesia to Singapore with 162 people on board, went missing Sunday morning local time somewhere over the Java Sea amidst reports of thunderstorms in the area. The search has been suspended until daylight Monday morning and there had been no distress signals, according to reports.
“Until Sunday, AirAsia Bhd. and its regional affiliates enjoyed a nearly flawless safety record, with no fatal accidents involving their planes, according to aviation industry experts, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The Flight Safety Foundation’s Air Safety Network database shows no accidents or serious incidents involving AirAsia aircraft in recent years — until Sunday.
The European Union lifted a ban on Indonesian AirAsia flights in July 2010 after a roughly three-year period. Six Indonesian airlines had been barred from flying to the EU during that span.
“The EU’s 2008 flight ban followed a string of deadly crashes in Indonesia over the past years, which seriously questioned the government’s ability to provide and monitor adequate safety assurances in the aviation industry,” Adnkronos International reported when the AirAsia ban was rescinded.]