Every air crash incident presents a peculiar problem. Despite how the aircraft investigation board resolves these incidents, there are still numerous unanswered questions to the event. The Garuda-Indonesia flight 152 that claimed the life of 234 people on board is one perplexing event that left the entire world in shock.
In what is still the worst aircrash incident in Indonesian history, the Garuda-Indinesia flight 152 in an Airbus A-300 still haunts everyone until today. On a normal day, in a perfectly working aircraft, things went completely wrong.
The experienced Captain Hance Rachmo Wiyogo, 41,and First Officer Tata Zuwaldi, also 41 started the day normally, but an unfortunate event led to the death of both men and everyone on the plane.
Both pilots in charge were said to be familiar with the route. In fact, the report from their sheets showed that they had used the route a number of times; ironically, that might have been part of the reason why the aircraft crashed.
Forest fires are quite common in Indonesia. Other than the fact it leads to the destruction of vegetation and farmlands, it is also a pilots nightmare.It was that time of the year and in the highlands of Sumatra, there was a huge forest fire limiting visibility.
Investigators typically take the readings on the aircraft at the crash site. At the time of the crash, the aircraft was suppose to be in descent configuration but the information derived showed something different.
Controlled flight into terrain
While the cause of the crash is depicted as a Pilot error, it was an unfortunate sequence of events that starts from the ground control. On listening to audio both from the cockpit voice recorder and ground control voice recorder, it was discovered that there were some minor discrepancies that might have led to the controlled flight into terrain.
In aviation, a controlled flight into terrain is a situation when an aircraft without any problems is unintentionally flown into a mountain, water body or generally any obstacle. In most cases, just like the flight 152, a pilot error is often the cause of the crash.
There were initial suspicions that there was system failure because the pilot flew in the opposite direction. However, close inspection showed that there was no system failure.
So, the voice recorder and Flight data recorder data showed that the aircraft was in perfect working condition. However, the pilot didn't entirely follow instructions and in some way, we could say it was overconfidence.
On the day of the flight, ground control gave specific instructions on what flight route to take that will lead to the airport. Bear in mind that the pilots were flying in the dark because of the forest fire that caused thick cloud of smoke.
The ground control station instructed the flight to descend to an altitude of 2,000 feet and stated a right turn at that point, would get the aircraft to the airport. Also, it is worth noting that the ground control didn't specify which approach to landing was being used, but that shouldn't be too important, since the flight was virtually being guided.
The data from the altimeter found at the crash site showed that the aircraft was 500 feet below the specified 2000 feet altitude. This combined with the wrong turn, combined to make the aircraft crash into a mountain along the wrong path. The question is, why did the pilot turn left instead of right, after clearly being told to turn right?
Flight investigators suspect that the unspecified approach to landing and the overfamiliarity that bred overconfidence in the pilot led to this crash.
During rush hour, ground control has to ensure that all planes can land. SOmetimes,some aircraft are requested to lower speeds and make adjustments to suit the situation. On this day, the normal approach to landing, which the pilot was very familiar with, wasn't to be used.
In fact, it was the exact opposite approach so in a siuation where the pilot usually turned left, due to familiarity with the route, ground control told him to turn right. However, the instructions wasn't followed and something as simple as a left turn, led to the unfortunate demise of the people on that plane.
This event that happened in January of 1997 was one of the saddest days in Indonesian history. On a normal flight in a perfectly working aircraft, things went completely gory moments before landing.
The event led to an inquiry into the quality of equipment used by ground control station. In aviation, every millesecond counts and in this case, things could have gone differently if a better radar was used in the flight control station.
The radar in flight control refreshes every 12 seconds at the time, meaning that information about flight position is shown every 12 seconds. In aviation, that is quite a lot of time.
Modern day radars give almost live data about aircraft position and if they had a better radar, the flight control would have been able to alert the pilot about his wrong direction.
On the day of the crash, it was also observed that the ground proximity warning device failed. If the device was active, it would have alerted the pilots of terrain.
Also, the forest fire that completely obstructed visibility didn't help matters either.Assuming the pilot could see, he would have been able to safely steer the aircraft to the runway at the airport that was roughly 15 miles away.
Unfortunately, everything that could go wrong happened that day. This unfortunate event felt like a scene from Final destination movie franchise. This perfectly working aircraft with experienced pilot crashed into terrain. Everything that could go wrong happened that day. The forces, information and overconfidence led to this unfortunate event.
On the backdrop of the event, the airline and affiliated companies faced numerous lawsuits. Different suits were filed against the airlines handling of pilot training and the fact that the ground proximity device failed.