Mimika Air Flight 514

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Mimika Air Flight 514
An IRIAF PC-6 Porter in Vahdati Airbase Air Show.JPG
A Pilatus PC-6 Porter similar to the one involved in the incident.
Accident summary
Date 17 April 2009 (2009-04-17)
Summary Spatial disorientation due to pilot error
Site Mount Gergaji, Papua, Indonesia
Passengers 9
Crew 2
Fatalities 11
Survivors 0
Aircraft type Pilatus PC-6
Operator Mimika Air
Registration PK-LTJ
Destination Ilaga, Papua, Indonesia

Mimika Air Flight 514 was an 18 minutes chartered passenger flight using a Pilatus PC-6 Porter operating a Mimika Air flight from Mulia to Ilaga (Papua). On the morning of 17 April 2009, while en route to Ilaga, the aircraft impacted Mount Gergaji, killing all eleven passengers and crews on board.

The Mimika Air crash was the second fatal aviation accident in Papua; and the third in Indonesia; in less than two weeks.[1] A cargo aircraft had also crashed in Papua on April 9, killing six people;[1] and an Indonesian Air Force aircraft had crashed in West Java on April 6, killing 24 people.[2]

National Transportation Safety Committee released the final report and concluded that the plane crashed due to pilot lack of familiarazation with the route, which leads into pilot lost control of the plane due to spatial disorientation. As the aircraft flew into the cloud, the pilot suddenly overwhelmed by spatial disorientation and didn't do the corrective action to recover the aircraft as the aircraft started to lose control. Few seconds later the plane impacted terrain.

Flight route[edit]

The Mimika Air flight took off from Mulia, Papua province, Indonesia, at 10:00 A.M. on Friday, April 17, 2009.[1] The flight was to last approximately eighteen minutes and was scheduled to land in Ilaga, which is also located in Papua province.[1] The Pilatus Porter light aircraft crashed en route to Ilaga.

There were many peaks and high elevation while conducting the Mulia-Ilaga route. Therefore, the route could only use visual flight rules. Pilots familiar with the route and the aircraft type reported that it was impossible for a Pilatus Porter to depart from Ilaga and climb over Mount Gergaji without a series of circling flight. If climbing circling flight were executed, the time interval between Mulia-Ilaga route would be considerably longer than the planned 18 minutes flight.

A total of eleven people were on board – nine passengers and two pilots.[3] Among the passengers were secretary of the Puncak Jaya polling body, Martin Jitmau and chairman of the local election supervisory committee, Herman Senanfi.[3] The pilot was a Myanmar citizens, while the other ten were Indonesians. The flight consisted of one pilot, one observer, and nine passengers: eight adults and one infant. At the time of the crash, the aircraft was also carrying a voting box and paper for the national legislative election in the country.

The pilot operating the flight had logged in 2.664 hours of flying experience which 1.412 of them was on the Porter. He held a current Commercial Pilot License from Myanmar. A Validation Certificate was also received by Indonesian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on 12 February 2009.

Crash[edit]

The plane departed from Mulia Airport at 10.00 A.M local time, according to eyewitness. The route operated by the plane was using visual flight rules as the route have mountainous terrain. The flight was expected to take eighteen minutes. However, the plane later lost contact with the tower. At 01.23 P.M, Control Tower tried to make contact with the plane, but there were no response came from the plane. The flight had missed the arrival time and two minutes later a search operation was commenced. Search operation later scaled up as signal from Electronic Locator Transmitter heard from search aircraft and over-flying aircraft.

Indonesian search teams discovered the crash site the following day, during an air search.[1] The wreckage was still smoking when found, in inverted position. The engine, both propellers, cockpit and wings was destroyed by post-impact fire. The forward fuselage was also burned down alongside with the main landing gear.[1] The Porter had gone down on Mount Gergaji in Papua, close to the site of a 2006 Trigana Air Service aircraft crash, which had killed nine people.[1] Search aircraft located the wreckage at the elevation of 12.000 ft in Mount Gergaji. None of the eleven people on board were found alive.

At the time of the accident, the weather observed by Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics in the area was mostly clear, with some clouds in the mountain. The location of the accident was not on the route normally flown by the flight.

Findings by the NTSC later concluded that Flight 514 crashed due to pilot error. The pilot joined Mimika Air on 12 February and due to this short time, the pilot still didn't have enough knowledge about the route and unfamiliar with the route. He may also didn't have enough knowledge about the weather condition in the area and relying on Global Positioning System navigation. The pilot then tried to climb Mount Gergaji without any circling attempts. Encountered by cloud, the plane continued to climb and flew into the cloud. However, this cause visibility to be limited. Overwhelmed, the pilot later become spatially disorientated, thus lost control of the aircraft. The plane impacted terrain in inverted position, burst into flames, killing all on board.[4]

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