The Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX jet that crashed near Jakarta on Monday morning flew erratically during a flight the previous evening when it experienced a "technical problem," according to data from flight tracking website FlightRadar24. (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism)

Another Lion Air Pilot Arrested for Suspected Drug Abuse


DECEMBER 07, 2017

Jakarta. Police arrested a senior pilot from Indonesia's biggest budget airline Lion Air in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, on Monday night (04/12) for suspected drug abuse, a Transportation Ministry official said on Wednesday.

Police raided the pilot's hotel room in Kupang, where they found packets of crystal methamphetamine, locally known as "sabu."

A urine test found traces of the popular street drug in the pilot's system.

The pilot — known by his initial MS to the media — and the other plane crew, who were staying in the same hotel, were interrogated and drug tested at a nearby police station.

The drug tests on the other crew members turned out negative.

Lion Air's communication officer Ramaditya Handoko confirmed the arrest of the company's pilot to the Jakarta Globe in a text message on Tuesday.

"If our pilot is proved to be a [drug] user, we will impose the appropriate sanctions according to company regulations, including termination of his employment," Raditya said.

He said all Lion Air pilots undergo a complete medical check-up — including drug test — every six months. They are also subjected to a daily health check every morning before their first flight for the day.

Agus Santoso, the Transport Ministry's director general of air transportation, said the pilot will not be allowed to fly while his case is being investigated by police.

"Narcotics pose great dangers to everyone, let alone a pilot. [Drug use] can cause accidents and endanger passengers' lives. We will not tolerate drug use [by pilots] and harsh penalties will be meted out to users," Agus said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

In June, the National Anti-Narcotics Agency (BBN) also detained a Lion Air pilot at Lombok International Airport in West Nusa Tenggara who tested positive for cannabis.