Wed, 05 Mar 2003

3 killed in helicopter crash at Sahid Jaya Hotel

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A commercial helicopter undertaking a survey flight skid off the helipad of the Sahid Jaya Hotel in Central Jakarta and fell 22 floors into the hotel's swimming pool, killing all three people on board.

Eyewitness Robert Hauberdeen told reporters that at around 11:40 a.m., the helicopter slid about eight meters from the helipad because of high winds and failed to land.

Muhadi, another eyewitness, said that the tail of the helicopter crashed into the side of the hotel and plunged to the third floor by the swimming pool. No explosion occurred, and two people near the crash site were unharmed.

Separately, deputy spokesman of the National Police Edward Aritonang said that engine problems might have prompted the helicopter to make an emergency landing in the Semanggi area, but it turned into a fiasco.

The three aboard the ill-fated flight were Air Force Major Affandi Malik (39), the pilot, Daisy Darmawan (32), an accountant for transportation company PT Mitra Radjasa Semesta, and Donovan Ardiansyah (31), a duty manager of the Aston Hotel. All died instantly from injuries sustained in the crash.

Weily B. Muljadi, Executive Director of PT Helizona, the operator of the helicopter, said that PT Mitra Radjasa Semesta had rented the helicopter to explore the possibility of opening an air taxi business in Jakarta.

"The flight was aimed at observing the availability of hotel helipads in Jakarta," Weily said.

He added that prior to the flight, the Robinson 44 helicopter was in good condition and well-maintained, and that the pilot was experienced and skilled, having carried out a lot of test flights previously.

Affandi graduated from the Military Academy in Magelang in 1986, taking early retirement in 1995, and was working at the transportation ministry's Directorate General of Air Transportation as head of flight personnel deployment.

He was a specialist pilot for Sykorsky/twin pac helicopters and was once flew operations in East Timor and Papua.

The two other victims, Daisy and Donovan, were conducting business-related activities.

The bodies of the victims were taken to state-owned Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital in Central Jakarta.