Pilot Coalition Slams Transport Minister for Insensitive, Ill-Timed Remarks


OCTOBER 14, 2015

Jakarta. Indonesian pilots are demanding an apology from Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan for what they feel are insensitive and inappropriate remarks regarding two recent tragedies in the country's aviation industry.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Indonesian Pilots Solidarity group accused Jonan of violating  International Civil Aviation Organization standards and recommended practices, Civil Aviation Safety Regulations and Indonesia's own transportation laws, by suggesting that human error was to blame in last week's crash of an Aviastar Twin Otter plane in South Sulawesi and the disappearance of a helicopter in North Sumatra this week.

Regulations stipulate that only Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) is allowed to investigate and make conclusions on an aviation incident.

After both tragedies, the minister aired his remarks before the victims were found and before the KNKT began its investigations.

“[Jonan's] actions and remarks, which point the blame on the pilot and crew involved in these accidents, were both wrong and unlawful,” the group said.

The group added that the minister's callousness was also hurtful to family members of the deceased pilots and crew members, who at the time were still anxious to hear news of their loved ones' whereabouts.

During last week's search for the Aviastar plane, Jonan remarked that the pilot had deviated from his flight path when the crash occurred and the minister would have sanctioned him if he were alive.

All 10 on board were killed in the crash.

Jonan then suggested that the missing helicopter pilot was to blame for the most recent incident, saying he never should have taken off during poor visibility caused by the ongoing haze crisis.

But the minister began courting controversy long before these two disasters. Earlier this year, while search and rescue operators were frantically searching for the remains of AirAsia flight QZ8501 following its disappearance on Dec. 28, Jonan placed blame on the budget airline for not having the permit to fly the Surabaya-Singapore route. He also jumped the gun by calling the plane's climb before it vanished off radar screens "abnormal."

Ignatius Jonan