Lion Air crash report urges better pilot training

AP News
Posted: May 15, 2013 10:25 AM

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A preliminary report into last month's Lion Air plane crash off the resort island of Bali urges the budget carrier to immediately address safety concerns by providing more training for pilots during critical landing times.

The National Transportation Safety Committee's investigation did not outline what caused the accident, but said the brand new Boeing 737-800 aircraft was airworthy. It issued three safety recommendations for Lion Air to ensure its pilots are properly trained and follow regulations for handing over the controls at critical altitudes and times, and how to respond when visibility is limited at low altitudes.

The report, issued Tuesday, says the 24-year-old co-pilot called out twice that he could not see the runway as the plane was landing in the rain on a domestic flight on April 13. The pilot then took over the controls and called for a second landing attempt. One second later, the plane, carrying 108 passengers and crew, slammed into the ocean short of the runway. It broke in half and stopped in shallow water. Everyone on board survived, and there were no serious injuries.

The final accident report is expected later this year.

Lion Air spokesman Edward Sirait said he could not comment because he had not seen the report.

Lion Air, Indonesia's largest private airline, stunned the aviation industry two years ago when it announced the biggest-ever order for Boeing planes — 230 jets in all.

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In March, it signed a $24 billion deal to buy 234 planes from Airbus, which was also that aircraft maker's largest order ever. The enlarged fleet would position Lion Air to take on budget carrier AirAsia, which dominates no-frills travel in the region.

Lion Air has had seven accidents and incidents since 2002. Most were minor and all but one occurred during landing, according to the Aviation Safety Network. The worst crash in 2004 killed 25 people.