Merpati Nusantara Airlines Flight 8968
|Date||7 May 2011|
|Summary||Failure to use checklists, Pilot Error, Inexperienced pilots|
|Site||Off the coast of West Papua, Indonesia on visual approach to Kaimana Airport
|Aircraft type||Xian MA60|
|Operator||Merpati Nusantara Airlines|
|Flight origin||Sorong Airport, West Papua, Indonesia|
|Destination||Kaimana Airport, West Papua, Indonesia|
Merpati Nusantara Airlines Flight 8968 was a passenger flight which crashed off the coast of West Papua, Indonesia, on 7 May 2011. All 25 aboard died. The aircraft involved, a Xian MA60, was operating Merpati Nusantara Airlines' scheduled domestic service from Sorong Airport to Kaimana Airport, both in West Papua. It crashed into the sea in heavy rain, while on approach to Kaimana, about 500 metres (1,600 ft) before the runway.
The aircraft involved, an Xian MA-60 registered PK-MZK, had entered service in October 2010, and had flown for a total of 615 hours at the time of the incident.
The aircraft was on final approach, after holding for fifteen minutes, to the Kaimana Airport at about 1400 local time (0500 UTC) when it crashed into water about 500 metres (1,600 ft) before the runway. The weather at the time of the incident was rain and fog, with visibility less than 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). An official at the Ministry of Air Transportation said that "there was heavy rainfall, which shortened the [pilot's] range of vision. It was also very dark." After impacting the water, the aircraft broke into at least two main pieces and sank in about 30 metres (98 ft) of water. According to a local navy officer, the aircraft "exploded" on impact, killing all on board.
There were 25 people on board the aircraft, of which 21 were passengers, four were crew, and two were unspecified technicians. Between fifteen and eighteen bodies were recovered in the immediate aftermath of the crash, with the remainder still trapped in the aircraft. Of the dead, three were young children, including a baby. A search involving ten Navy divers was initiated to recover additional bodies, though weather conditions and equipment difficulties made the effort unsuccessful.
The aircraft's flight recorder was recovered on 9 May after a search that was hampered by a strong underwater current that necessitated the fuselage to be anchored to the seabed. After examination, it was discovered that the contents of the recorder were encrypted in Chinese; as a result, the recorder was sent to China to be decrypted.
On 10 May, Merpati Nusantara's president, Sardjono Jhony Tjitrokusumo offered to resign if the crash was the fault of the airline, saying that "I am ready to tender my resignation if the error was from Merpati's side."
On 13 May, the Indonesian government ordered Merpati Nusantara to perform safety inspections on its other twelve MA60 aircraft. In announcing the order, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that "[t]here should be a prevention effort and inspection of the same type of Merpati aircraft [...] This [is] important to the public so they can get clear explanation."
On May 2012, the National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) released its final report on the investigation. It is determined that pilot errors were the major contributor to the crash. Pilots aborted landing and performed a sharp left turn with an excessively high bank angle of 38 degrees. It was also found that the pilots did not follow normal procedure by retracting the flaps, causing the aircraft to lose altitude rapidly.
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