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Aug 18, 2015

West Papua crash exposes our grubby little xenophobia

Yes, Indonesian carrier Trigana is on a European banned list. But Air France isn't, and it has had many more fatalities.


No one in Australia is likely to have any insights at this stage into the crash of an Indonesian turbo-prop in a mountainous area of West Papua on Sunday, but that hasn’t stopped three radio stations demanding answers, and more.

Two of the proposed questions that came with proposed answers were particularly silly.

One was whether or not the Trigana crash, of an ATR 42-300 about 27 years old, reflected on turbo-prop safety in this country. It doesn’t. Australia has Australian problems or issues with the safety of regional turbo-prop operations in isolated instances. There is nothing to extrapolate from the Indonesian crash.

The age of the aircraft is immaterial. Its maintenance isn’t. If the aircraft has been properly maintained many parts of the original aircraft will have been compulsorily replaced with new parts. That’s how aged aircraft maintenance works. You keep them young, or less aged, by timely replacement of parts.

The aircraft is also on the EU list of banned carriers. Well, whoopee. Air France isn’t on that list, and it is, going on its reported accidents and incidents and investigations, a far more dangerous or frightening airline than any that immediately spring to mind in Indonesia.

The European banned list includes carriers like Trigana that couldn’t fly to Europe with the types of aircraft they have without landing multiple times to refuel. The European list in relation to small (and indeed scary) Asian airlines is about as logical as banning Bangkok tuk-tuks from competing with French taxis in Paris (which are also indeed scary at times.)

The European list is a grubby little xenophobic exercise in leveraging anti-Asian sentiment. And incredibly selective in that it ignores home dangers and risks.


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