Indonesia orders Airbus A320 plane inspections after AirAsia crash report

AirAsia airplanes sit on the tarmac at Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta.
AirAsia airplanes sit on the tarmac at Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta.PHOTO: REUTERS
Foreign investigators examine the recovered tail of the AirAsia flight QZ8501 in Kumai on Jan 12, 2015.
Foreign investigators examine the recovered tail of the AirAsia flight QZ8501 in Kumai on Jan 12, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (BLOOMBERG) - Indonesia will inspect all Airbus Group SE A320 planes in the country and ground any with repeated faults, on the recommendation of investigators into the crash of an AirAsia flight last December.

A report released Tuesday (Dec 1) cited a crack in the soldering of an electronic component on an A320 rudder, as well as pilot error responding to the issue, as reasons for the Dec 28 crash of AirAsia Flight 8501.

Inspections of all 75 A320s in the country, operated by airlines including AirAsia and PT Garuda Indonesia, will start immediately and continue until next June, said Suprasetyo, director general of air transport at the transport ministry.

"Every component in the A320 will be inspected," Mohammad Alwi, director of airworthiness and plane operations at the transport ministry, said at a press conference Thursday (Dec 3).

Particular attention will be paid to the rudder travel limiter unit, which the crash report showed had a history of faults dating to the 1990s on the doomed AirAsia plane.

The AirAsia crash drew further attention to air safety across Asia following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 last year. There have been at least three other deadly accidents in Indonesia this year. 

Additional Training

Airbus will continue to provide technical assistance to the Indonesian authorities, spokesman Sean Lee said in an e-mail after the announcement. The transport ministry will also require pilots to undergo "upset recovery" training every six months, from 12 months previously.

PT Indonesia AirAsia, AirAsia X, Lion Group's Batik Air and Garuda's PT Citilink Indonesia also operate A320s in Indonesia, the ministry said.

Batik Air's A320s are new and it expects to have no problems with regulator checks, with no issues found on the rudder unit so far, President Director Achmad Luthfie said.

Citilink, which has 36 A320s under three years old, says it has good plane maintenance under Garuda's facilities and will allow authorities to check the planes, spokesman Benny Butarbutar said.

Indonesia AirAsia's President Director Sunu Widyatmoko and Garuda's President Director Arif Wibowo did not respond to phone messages seeking comment.