UPDATE 1-Indonesia airline safety hurt by inadequate staff – sources – Reuters

(Adds comment from Indonesian president)

* Map of Papua region: link.reuters.com/nak45w

By Allison Lampert and Allison Martell

MONTREAL/TORONTO, Aug 18 (Reuters) – Indonesia scored poorly
on a 2014 safety audit by the U.N. aviation agency largely
because its Ministry of Transportation is understaffed, said two
sources familiar with the matter, as the country struggles to
cope with the expansion of air travel.

Indonesia’s patchy aviation safety record worsened on Sunday
when a passenger plane crashed in eastern Papua province killing
all 54 people aboard, the third major plane crash this year in
the Southeast Asian archipelago.

The U.N.’s Montreal-based International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO) sets safety standards for international
flights. Its audits evaluate countries’ ability to oversee their
airlines, including how well they conform to those standards.

Indonesia has struggled to hire and train staff quickly
enough to oversee its fast-growing aviation market, which the
International Air Transport Association expects to triple in
size by 2034.

“Until they resolve this they cannot do the same level of
supervision and certifications as a country with a robust system
in place,” one of the sources said.

Since the 2014 audit, Indonesia has come up with a plan to
address problems, the source said.

“They have been very active in developing their plan,” the
source said. “They are making progress.”

But ICAO’s auditors would not return to check on progress or
run a fresh assessment until the majority of problems found in a
previous audit have been fixed.

The ICAO did not immediately comment.

In January, an AirAsia flight went down in the sea
off Indonesia, killing all 162 aboard. In June, more than 100
people died in the crash of a military transport plane,
prompting the president to promise a review of the ageing air
force fleet.

“Earlier, I asked the transportation minister by telephone
to continue to improve the safety systems and quality of service
of our flights,” President Joko Widodo told domestic media on
Monday, although it was not clear if he was responding to the
ICAO concerns.

The ICAO publishes audit scores online, but typically does
not disclose the specific problems behind the scores.

In the audit carried out in May 2014, Indonesia scored below
the average in all of eight categories. Most countries score
above average in at least some categories.

Indonesia’ lowest score was for “organization”, at 20
percent, where the average was 64 percent. “Accident
investigation” was 31 percent, compared with an average of 55

Its best score was for “airworthiness”, at 61 percent,
compared with an average of 74 percent.

But the audit did not flag any specific “significant safety
concerns”, the most serious problems. Thailand’s most recent
audit, for example, uncovered significant safety concerns,
prompting several nearby countries to stop its airlines from
adding new routes.

(Additional reporting by Angie Teo and Fergus Jensen in
JAKARTA; Editing by Stuart Grudgings, Robert Birsel)


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