This blog and many others like to write about growing aviation markets. Over the years many posts has focused on China and India precisely for this reason. It is however easy to miss out on news from other growing markets behind these giants. Indonesia is currently the 6th biggest market in the world for domestic flights (after USA, China, India, Japan and Brazil) and it has the potential to become the fourth biggest in 2039 (link). With its 17 000 islands flying is a necessary mode of transport for the nation of 270 million people. This blog has covered Indonesia in regards to its challenges with safety (link), growing market (Iink), plans to manufacture aircraft (link), the bizarre situtaion with bomb threats there (link) (all these are previous blog posts in Swedish).
An extensive article on Channel News Asia (link below) has brought up the journey for Indonesia to become not only a growing market for aviation, but also one that can offer safe air transport services. The article was prompted by the recent accident with Sriwijaya Air Flight 182, a Boeing 737-400, that crashed shortly after take-off from Jakarta’s international airport Soekarno-Hatta on the 9th of January this year. This was the third fatal accident in the same are in the last six years. To this can be added non-fatal accidents, such as runway excursions. This follows a ten year period where aviation in Indonesia was monitored by ICAO and the US regulator FAA. During this time the EU also had a ban on aircraft from Indonesia operating to Europe. The ban was lifted in 2018 and allowed for further international expansion of the aviation industry in Indonesia.
After an initial boom in the 1960s, aviation became established in the 1980s in Indonesia as part of the transport infrastructure. This was followed by a downturn after an economic crisis in the late eighties. However, with a growing economy and the arrival of low cost carriers such as Lion Air, Adam Air and Sriwijaya Air, the aviation industry once again was booming in the archipelago nation. Maintenance and operational challenges followed, resulting in an increase in serious incidents and accidents. In response came the international reactions previously mentioned. This could not stop the growing domestic market and with large aircraft orders, such as Lion Air ordering 100 B737-9s, also came an increasing focus on bringing in best practices in regards to safety from around the industry. And improvement was, and still is needed, as Indonesia has had 104 civilian aircraft accidents and in excess of 1,300 fatalities since 1945. This is the worst safety record in the Asia-Pacific region as per Aviation Safety Network (link).
However, there has been improvements in recent years, as recognised in an article by Bloombergs (link). Also, when comparing numbers it should be kept in mind that operations in Indonesia often are challenging in regards to that many flights are with relatively small turboprop aircraft flying in tropical weather, to and from small airports on islands (with short runways) and with other infrastructure that still needs improvement. Even so, there has been more than enough incidents and accidents where issues of lacking experience, pilot training and cockpit cooperation has been assigned as contributing to the events. A good research article that provides an overview and summary of the reasons for incidents and accidents in Indonesia is available here: link.
In response to the challenges for aviation safety in Indonesia, international authorities, aircraft manufacturers and training providers have increased their presence and this has been followed by conferences and cooperation to gradually improve the knowledge and expertise available for the aviation industry in Indonesia. At this point, it is important to recognise both that there is more work to do for Indonesia to uphold and further improve all aspects of aviation safety standards. However, holding up previous accidents each time a new one happens missed out on the improvements already achieved and does not provide a fair picture of neither the efforts or the progress made.
Link to article:
IN FOCUS: Indonesia’s journey to improved aviation safety standards