Indonesian pilot fired after slurred cockpit announcement

Screengrab of 32-year-old pilot Tekad Purna staggering through a metal detector at airport security.
Screengrab of 32-year-old pilot Tekad Purna staggering through a metal detector at airport security.PHOTO: YOUTUBE/ALEX WILLIAM

JAKARTA (AFP, REUTERS) - An Indonesian pilot who stumbled through airport security and repeatedly dropped his belongings before making a slurred announcement to his 154 passengers from the cockpit has been fired, officials said on Saturday (Dec 31).

Indonesian authorities have issued a warning to budget airline PT Citilink Indonesia, a subsidiary of national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, after videos of the incident were circulated online.

Fary Djemi Francis, who heads a parliamentary commission overseeing transportation, said that the airline had been asked to investigate whether the pilot had been on drugs. “Second, we also ask Citilink’s management to sanction the 
pilot who went on board the aircraft without going through the briefing room, missing checks on his fitness to fly,” Francis said.

The CEO of Citilink has offered his resignation to take responsibility for the incident.

YouTube footage showed 32-year-old pilot Tekad Purna staggering through a metal detector at airport security and dropping his bag and belongings several times after arriving late for his flight on Wednesday from the city of Surabaya to the capital Jakarta.

After hearing a garbled and slurred announcement from the cockpit, scared passengers reported the pilot, accusing him of being drunk or on drugs.

The flight took off later with a new pilot but several of the passengers decided to cancel.

"The result of the investigation so far is sufficient for our management to take a firm decision and fire the pilot," Citilink spokesman Benny Siga Butarbutar told AFP Saturday. "In the aviation industry, we believe in zero mistakes."

The airline had yet to establish if the pilot was under the influence of drink or drugs but Citilink said his conduct was serious enough to merit dismissal on the grounds of endangering passenger safety.

During a press conference late Friday announcing the pilot's dismissal, Citilink CEO Albert Burhan also tendered his resignation.

The spokesman said the resignations would require the approval of shareholders. “We would never mess around when it concerns the condition of a flight, let alone experiment with passenger safety,”Butarbutar said.

Indonesia has a poor aviation safety record and has experienced several air disasters in recent years.

Citilink operates 34 aircraft, conducting 184 flights daily, the company’s website said.