Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Batik Air Flight 7703

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Covid-19
Total fatalities  0
Total survivors  60 (all)
Total injuries (non-fatal)  3 (from shock)
Batik Air Flight 7703
Date  4 April 2016 (2016-04-04)
Summary  Ground collision during take-off
Site  Halim Perdanakusuma Airport, Jakarta, Indonesia

Batik Air Flight 7703 was a scheduled domestic flight operated by Lion Air's subsidiary Batik Air from Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta to Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport, Makassar. On 4 April 2016, while taking off from Halim Perdanakusuma Airport, the Boeing 737-800 operating the flight (registration PK-LBS) collided with a TransNusa Air Services ATR 42-600 (registration PK-TNJ), which was being towed across the runway.

Contents

No one was killed or injured in the accident and Angkasa Pura, Indonesia's Airport Management Authority, asked the National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC) to investigate the accident. Minister of Transportation Ignasius Jonan also asked the Director General of Civil Aviation to call the NTSC to investigate the cause of the accident, later criticising Angkasa Pura for the vacuum of power at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport for the past two weeks.

Background

Halim Perdanakusuma Airport was a commercial and military airport located in East Jakarta. The airport, formerly a military-only airport, became a civilian facility in the 1970s, before converting into a military facility again in 1991 following the completion of Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in nearby Tangerang. In 2014, the airport was once again allowed to serve commercial flights. This was due to the congested Soekarno–Hatta Airport, and this move to change Halim into a joint commercial and military airport would decrease the congestion at Soekarno–Hatta Airport. However, the facilities in the airport were not sufficient for handling commercial airliners. Several politicians criticized the decision to change the operation of Halim Perdanakusuma Airport from military to joint-use. Several of them asked the government to change the airport back to military; they hoped that the airport would change back into a military airport after completion of the expansion plan in Soekarno–Hatta Airport.

Collision

Based on a press conference conducted by the Director General of Civil Aviation, the accident occurred at 19:55 WIB. The TransNusa Air Services ATR-42 was being towed to a hangar when Flight 7703 was taking off. The left wing of Flight 7703 sliced off the vertical stabilizer and left outer wing of the ATR 42 and severely damaged Flight 7703's left wing. Flight 7703 then "shook", veered and its wing caught fire, survivors recalling that some passengers didn't know that a collision had happened, and only felt a bump similar to that of a car's tire hitting a hole in the street, while others were crying and "screaming in terror". The witnesses stated that there was a loud bang when the collision happened, several seconds later, they noticed that Flight 7703's left wing was on fire. Survivors recalled the pilots screaming "Fire! Fire!"

The passengers and crew then evacuated the aircraft, the airport fire brigade was activated and extinguished the flames on the wing, then passengers and crew were transported by bus to the airport's passenger terminal. Batik Air later stated that the survivors would be flown by another aircraft to Makassar.

Aircraft

Both aircraft were relatively new and both aircraft were built in 2014, according to an NTSC official. The ATR 42-600 was delivered to TransNusa Air Services in September 2014 and the Boeing 737-800 was delivered to Batik Air in November 2014.

Investigation

Minister of Transportation Ignasius Jonan tasked the National Transportation Safety Committee with investigating the cause of the accident. Jonan later criticized Angkasa Pura for the vacuum of power in Halim Perdanakusuma Airport's management for the past two weeks.

President Director of TransNusa Air Services Juvenile Jodjana held a press conference and stated that the tow truck crew had followed the established procedure for towing the ATR-42. The aircraft was due to park at an apron in the south portion of the airport. Batik Air's spokesman also stated that Flight 7703's crew had followed procedures and had been cleared for take-off by Air Traffic Control (ATC). Investigators have retrieved both black boxes from both aircraft and will analyse the content in their facility (the black box from the ATR will probably reveal nothing as AC electrical power would not have been available). They have questioned the crew of Flight 7703, and will speak to the air traffic controller that was on duty. NTSC will also interview the ground crew on the tow truck, investigate the taxi procedure, as well as the maintenance of both aircraft.

After analysing the content of the black box, it was revealed that Batik Air had been cleared for take off, while the TransNusa Air Services' ATR 42 was still on the runway. The pilots were aware that a collision was inevitable, and tried to steer the plane to avoid a more severe collision. The NTSC later would transcript the CVR and FDR from both black boxes. Due to a large amount of air incident cases in Indonesia, NTSC stated that it would take up to five months to solve the cause of the collision. The ground handling service in Halim Perdanakusuma Airport were suspended by the government in response to the accident.

Experts believe that the accident may have been caused by weak coordination between ATC, the tow truck crew, and Flight 7703's crew and stated that if Flight 7703 was travelling at high speed, the incident could have been similar to the Tenerife Airport disaster in 1977.

The flight recorders, either the cockpit voice recorder or the flight data recorder, from the ATR 42, didn't provide any data as there were no electrical power at the time of the accident. Therefore, the NTSC could only retrieve the flight recorders from the Boeing 737, which was supported with an AC electrical power at the time. The NTSC stated that because the towed ATR 42 didn't has electrical power, none of the lights inside and outside the aircraft were on. Radio communication was also off, therefore the ground crew of the towed ATR 42 could only communicate to the Tower through the handheld radio communication.

Flight 7703 was communicating with the tower on frequency 118.6 MHz. The communications were recorded by ground based automatic voice recording equipment and the CVR with good quality; while the towed ATR 42 was communicating on frequency 152.7 MHz.The communications in the ATR 42 were not recorded. Based on interview of the ground crew, the towed ATR 42 requested for a reposition to the south apron. When Flight 7703 was pushed back, the towed aircraft was instructed by Halim Tower unit to continue towing and report taxiway “C”.

The absence of lighting on the ATR 42 made it impossible for the air traffic controller to notice the movement of the aircraft, knowing that it was night, aggravated by light shower in Halim Airport. The assistant controller could only see the lights from the towing vehicle. At this point, the towing car driver stated that he saw Flight 7703 was lining up for takeoff then asked to the Halim Tower whether Flight 7703 was initiating the takeoff, but there was no reply from the Halim Tower. Fearing that Flight 7703 would take off, the towing car driver then speeds up the towing and turned to the right side of the runway.

The pilot stated that during line up, the lights surround the turn pad were very bright and affected his forward vision for a short time. It was common practice in Halim to lineup at the turn pad beyond the threshold runway 24. The air traffic controller then observed if there was another aircraft or a vehicle in the runway. Because they didn't see any other aircraft in the runway, Flight 7703 then cleared for take off by Halim Tower. While taking off, the First Officer then realized that there was an object in the runway (the ATR 42), the Captain quickly took over the control and applied a right rudder input immediately. The Boeing 737-800's winglet then slammed into the ATR 42, at a speed of 80 knots.

Aftermath

The TransNusa ATR was damaged beyond repair, losing its vertical stabilizer and left outer wing. The Batik Air 737 suffered structural and fire damage to its left wing and is also possibly a hull loss.

Survivors of the crash later received a "compensation" flight from Batik Air. However, as most passengers were "too traumatized" by the crash, most of them cancelled their flights and demanded a refund from the airline. Additionally the 3 ATC crew; controller, assistant controller and supervisor, were traumatized by the accident.

As the result of the crash, Halim Perdanakusuma Airport was closed until 22:00 WIB. Several flights that were due to land at Halim were diverted to the nearby Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, including five Citilink flights. The aircraft was evacuated and the runway was cleared of debris. The airport was reopened at midnight on 5 April and five flights, including one with a 200-strong Indonesian Army mission to Darfur, South Sudan, took off from the airport.

The Director General of Civil Aviation, Surpastyo, stated that passengers that were delayed due to the collision must be given compensation, as he said that all airlines have a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to treat affected passengers favourably. AirlineRatings.com, an airliner review website, dubbed Batik Air as the most unsafe airline of 2016 due to this accident.

References

Batik Air Flight 7703 Wikipedia


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