Aviation Accidents

Garuda Indonesia Flight 152 – 26 September 1997

On September 26, 1997, Garuda Indonesia Flight 152 crashed into the jungle near Medan, Indonesia, killing all 222 passengers and 12 crew on board. The incident was one of the deadliest aviation accidents in Indonesian history, and its cause was the subject of intense investigation and speculation.

The flight was en route from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Tangerang to Polonia International Airport, Medan in Indonesia when it encountered bad weather and low visibility on approach to Polonia International Airport. The captain, Rahmo Soejanto, decided to abort the landing and make a go-around, but during the climb, the aircraft entered a steep bank and crashed into the jungle.

Go Around definition and reasons
Go Around, Definition and Some Reasons

Crash Investigations

Initial investigations suggested that the crash was caused by a mechanical failure, but subsequent analysis revealed a much more complex set of factors. The flight crew was found to have made a number of errors in judgment and communication, while the airline itself was criticized for its lax safety standards and inadequate training.

One of the key factors in the crash was the captain’s decision to attempt the go-around in poor visibility. This maneuver is typically only attempted when the pilot has a clear view of the runway and surrounding terrain, but in this case, the crew was relying on their instruments to guide them. When the captain saw that the altitude was too low, he attempted to increase it by banking the plane, but this put the aircraft into a steep turn that it was unable to recover from.

Aircraft involved accident – Airbus A300B4-220 reg: PK-GAI
source: Steve Knight – https://www.flickr.com/photos/kitmasterbloke/49080818238/

Lack of Effective Communication

Another contributing factor was the lack of effective communication between the captain and his first officer. The first officer, who was piloting the plane at the time of the accident, was hesitant to challenge the captain’s decisions or to speak up when he noticed potential problems. This lack of assertiveness may have prevented the crew from taking corrective action before it was too late.

In the aftermath of the crash, the Indonesian government and aviation authorities implemented a series of reforms aimed at improving safety standards and reducing the risk of similar incidents in the future. These included stricter regulations on pilot training and certification, as well as greater oversight of airline operations and maintenance.

The legacy of Garuda Indonesia Flight 152 is a tragic reminder of the importance of safety in aviation. While accidents are often the result of a complex set of factors, it is critical that pilots and airlines take every precaution to minimize the risk of disaster. By learning from the mistakes of the past and continually striving for improvement, we can help ensure that air travel remains one of the safest modes of transportation in the world.

Featured image source: tailstrike.com