Mon, 07 Mar 2005

Airport need certification to ensure safety: INACA

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government needs to better regulate airports to ensure their safety, the Indonesian National Air Carriers Association (INACA) says after finishing a study of five airports in the country.

Most of the five airports surveyed had safety problems, INACA secretary general Tengku Burhanuddin said.

INACA conducted surveys at the Sepinggan Airport in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan; Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar; Hasanuddin International Airport in Makassar, South Sulawesi; Supadio Airport in Pontianak, West Kalimantan; and Polonia Airport in Medan, North Sumatra.

The survey reveals that most safety problems occur on the airports' runways. Problems include a lack of runway friction, the presence of obstacles or foreign objects on the strip and insufficient end-safety areas. There are also problems regarding regular security checks, the survey says.

"The government must issue airport safety certificates to inform the public about whether the airport has or hasn't met the standard," Burhanuddin said.

However, Ministry of Transportation director-general of air transportation Cucuk Suryo Suprodjo said there was already a safety certification process for airports. The ministry carried out evaluations on technical and operational systems once a year, he said.

"We have always checked the airport's navigation system, telecommunications, runway conditions and other things annually," he said. This evaluation usually took place before peak flying seasons like the Idul Fitri holiday period, he said.

Cucuk said the ministry had always provided its recommendations to airport operator PT Angkasa Pura.

The ministry conducted a safety audit 23 on airports in the country following a Lion Air aircraft plane crash at the Adi Sumarmo International Airport in Surakarta last year in which 26 people died and 56 others were injured.

The Boeing MD-82 plane skidded off the slippery runway while landing at the airport on Nov. 30, crashing into a cemetery.

Seventeen of the audited airports -- including Adi Sumarmo airport -- had problems with rubber deposits on their touchdown areas, while 12 of the 23 airports did not have the additional 500 meters of runway required as an additional safety measure.

The ministry has issued orders to upgrades of these airports.

Other problems found to be affecting airport runways were water accumulation, cracks, and faded runway markings.

The only airport given a completely clean bill of health was Pattimura International Airport in Ambon, Maluku.