Posted by : Des Ross Saturday, 7 February 2015

Let’s look at the two most recent air crashes.

Air Asia QZ8501 which crashed on 28th December 2014 in the Java Sea, Indonesia, and TransAsia GE235 which crashed in the Keelung River, Taipei, Taiwan on 4th February 2015.

QZ8501 has been more difficult to recover as it is in the Java Sea with rough seas and bad weather hampering the search. However, it is only in about 40 metres of water so that scuba divers are able to dive on the wreck. The Flight Data Recorder was recovered on 12th January 2015 and the Cockpit Voice Recorder was recovered on 13th January. Now, a full 4 weeks after recovery of the recorders, Indonesia is still only spoon feeding snippets of information to the World. The Indonesia authorities are holding the data from both recorders very close even the preliminary report on the accident is not being released and only going to the International Civil Aviation Organization.

TransAsia GE235 crashed in the Keelung River, Taipei at 14.55 local time. The river is shallow although flowing quickly and the wreckage was visible on the surface with some survivors. The rescue authorities were on the scene within minutes to rescue survivors and recover some bodies. Both the Cockpit Voice Recorder and the Flight Data Recorder were recovered at about 16.00 that afternoon. Both recorders have already been examined and information was made available to the public and authorities the following day, 5th February. On 6th February, less than 48 hours after the crash some conclusions were already being made available and a full press conference was held to release details of the crash and initial investigation.

TransAsia has already commenced additional training for all of its aircrew in handling engine failures on the ATR72 and all other operators of ATR72 aircraft will be provided with full information on the issues which caused the crash so that they can take pre-emptive action to avoid any similar events from occurring.

HANDLING OF CRASH DATA AND FLIGHT RECORDER TRANSCRIPTS

So, the comparison must, inevitably be made about the way in which these two countries are dealing with the respective air disasters. Indonesia is treating the information as though it was part of a military operation and top secret to only be seen and examined by appropriate people with top level security clearance. This also happened when the Silk Air flight 165 crashed in the Musi River, Sumatra on 19th December 1997 killing all on board. Indonesia had to be literally forced to release information on the crash and caused a great deal of frustration to the international aviation community and to ICAO. This case with QZ8501 is slightly better but only because of the intense media coverage of the events.

Why do the Indonesian authorities feel that this crash data must be secret and kept from the general public and the aviation industry? Whereas the authorities in Taiwan have been open and honest with briefings being provided immediately that information was available, so enabling the airlines to take immediate corrective action by re-training their pilots.

WHY DO WE HAVE INVESTIGATIONS OF AIR ACCIDENTS?

The entire reason for thorough accident investigations is to discover the cause of the accident so that the industry can learn from the mistakes made which have caused the accident. The objective is to avoid future accidents of a similar type. The only way to achieve this is to provide the information to all concerned organisations and people so that they can understand the cause.

Taiwan has followed the international protocols and very quickly released the information which will allow aviation safety to be improved.

Indonesia, on the other hand, is acting in a way which is of no benefit to itself or the international aviation community and would do itself a great service by informing the World of the issues surrounding the crash of QZ8501 at the earliest possible time.

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