AirAsia flight QZ8501: Indonesia mandates pilot briefings; wants action taken over unauthorised flights

An AirAsia plane in Surabaya on Jan 3, 2015. Indonesia's transport ministry has ordered airport authorities to take action against staff who allowed Indonesia AirAsia to fly outside its approved schedule. -- PHOTO: SPH
An AirAsia plane in Surabaya on Jan 3, 2015. Indonesia's transport ministry has ordered airport authorities to take action against staff who allowed Indonesia AirAsia to fly outside its approved schedule. -- PHOTO: SPH

JAKARTA - Indonesia's transport ministry has made it mandatory for all pilots to attend a face-to-face briefing with an airline flight operating officer (FOO) before departure.

The ministry has also asked authorities to take action against all parties that were involved in allowing Indonesia AirAsia to operate flights outside of its approved schedule, said Djoko Murjatmodjo, acting director-general of air transportation in the ministry.

"(The FOO briefing is) not only about weather. The FOO should also detect if a pilot is not in a good health. FOOs will have to be trained on profiling skills," he told reporters on Monday.

Aviation expert Ruth Hanna Simatupang told the Jakarta Post that the procedure of briefing with FOO was not new but it was not complied with in Indonesia.

“Nothing’s new about the policy, it is a standard that has been applied regularly in the world. It is just one of the problems in the jungle of our aviation system. There are a lot of problems that need to be fixed in our aviation system,” the newspaper quoted the former investigator at the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) as saying.

She said during the briefing, which takes no more than 20 minutes, FOOs would also give all necessary documents such as weather reports to the pilots to study.

“After that pilots will make their flight plan then submit it to FOOs for second thoughts or suggestions. Later, the FOOs will submit the discussed flight plan to the appointed air traffic control,” she said.

Monday's developments come after it was revealed that the pilots of flight QZ8501 did not receive the weather report prior to departure and the flight was on an unauthorised schedule. The airline was not permitted to fly the Surabaya-Singapore route on Sundays.

Murjatmodjo said on Monday that the possible parties involved in allowing Indonesia AirAsia to fly outside its approved flight schedule included airport staff and transport ministry officials.

"We issued orders to them to move these staff from a position related to flight operations," he said.

"We are looking into...why this had gone on for months. Regular reporting from airport authorities didn't take place? We hope to finish investigation quickly."

Murjatmodjo said the transport ministry is currently checking the airline's flight schedules to see if they match its permits or agreements. 

The ministry is also checking all the other airlines' flight schedule.

He said the AirAsia incident was a reminder that all airlines have to follow regulations. The impact of not complying could bring about chaotic aviation operations in Indonesia, he said.

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