The PM’s ridiculous assertion that Garuda Indonesia is a safe airline is a lie that has gone totally unchallenged by the Australian media for six days. It is sickening Indonesian a-se-licking humbug.

Why would the PM even dare to suggest that Garuda is safe for Australians to fly in response to the EU’s ban last week on all Indonesian carriers using European air space because of the unacceptable risk they pose to travellers and the general public?

Stripping away all the feel-good rubbish about standards that has come from Garuda and the government and officials in Jakarta, here are the facts.

Five Australians died when a Garuda captain tried to land a 737 at Yogyakarta on 7 March at twice the normal speed. The plane overran the runway, crashing into an embankment and then bursting into flames.

The airline is responsible for the flight safety culture and competency of its pilots. It cannot hide behind pilot error, and it has no excuses for failing to meet international safety standards and it is a patently unsafe carrier to fly in Australian air space until it does.

Air safety in Indonesia is in the same league as the poorly resourced and negligently regulated air services inflicted on remote Aboriginal communities in Australia.

But then no-one seems to be paying much attention to the disclosures of gross incompetence by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in relation to the current Lockhart River crash coronial inquiry either.

Allowing any Indonesian carrier to operate to any Australian airport — with the current endemic state of inadequate air safety regulation by Jakarta and the abysmal lack of effective safety cultures within its carriers — exposes Australians to unacceptable and indefensible risks.

Some time this week, more than six months after the 102 victims of the Adam Air crash of January 1 became sea food, divers will try to recover the black box data recorders from that crashed 737. Adam Air is the carrier co-founded in 2002 by Agung Laksono, the speaker of Indonesia’s council of representatives.

There is a very low prospect of data recovery because of salt water corrosion during the past six months and the politically well connected carrier resisted calls for prompt recovery of the data by arguing the toss over who should actually pay for it.

Adam Air insisted the accident was an act of God, even though another of its 737s broke apart on landing shortly afterwards because of chronic structural failings indicative of a lack of mandatory inspection and repair processes.

God has nothing to do with air safety, and even the PM should leave it alone if he can’t say something that is accurate and sensible.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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