'Crashed AirAsia jet's pilots did not get weather report'

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Jakarta, Jan 4: AirAsia Indonesia allegedly violated standard procedures which resulted in the pilots of the airline's doomed plane not receiving a required weather report before takeoff, a media report has said citing leaked official documents.

The Jakarta Post reported that the leaked documents have given rise to allegations that AirAsia Indonesia violated procedures that lead to the crash of the Flight QZ8501 carrying 162 people in the Java Sea.

AirAsia

The first allegation came to light in a leaked document that was originally sent by the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) to Transportation Minister Ignatius Jonan on Wednesday, showing that the pilots of the flight had not received a required weather report from the agency.

"AirAsia took the (BMKG) weather report at 7 AM," on December 28, the day of the crash, BMKG head Andi E Sakya said. The time was after the plane's departure from Surabaya's Juanda International Airport at 5:35 AM local time.

An AirAsia flight operations officer (FOO) received the report only after the plane lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control at 6:17 AM, the report said.

Former National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) investigator Ruth Hanna Simatupang said that pilots were required to obtain weather reports from the BMKG at least 10 minutes before takeoff, it said.

"According to standard procedures, every time pilots chart flight plans, they must consider (BMKG) weather reports. So how could the plane fly without a weather report from the agency?" Hanna was quoted as saying.

She said one factor might be the early-morning departure. Sunu Widyatmoko, the president director of AirAsia Indonesia, an associate carrier of Malaysian budget airline AirAsia, denied the allegation.

"AirAsia Indonesia really considers and is very careful in evaluating weather reports from the BMKG before every flight," he said.

Sunu said the BMKG's station at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport sent reports via e-mail four times a day to the AirAsia Indonesia operations center.

"These reports are accepted by the operations control center at all AirAsia Indonesia hubs, which are Jakarta, Medan, Surabaya, Bandung and Denpasar, where they are printed out and kept by pilots," he said.

The agency's weather map shows that the Surabaya- Singapore route taken by the flight on that day was very cloudy, lending support to the theory that thick cumulonimbus clouds contributed to the crash.

The Transportation Ministry has grounded AirAsia flights from Surabaya to Singapore because the airline allegedly did not have permission to fly on Sundays.

PTI

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