Lion Air’s Woeful Safety

Have you seen those rants (usually on Facebook) from passengers  fuming because “their” plane has been cancelled or delayed. The tone they use often suggests they believe that airline has single handedly selected them to punish them. There are many reasons for aeroplane delays with weather and technical issues being the most common.

An airline with a  good safety culture will not fly a plane which has had a technical issue until that fault is properly rectified. This suits me. Likewise, an airline with a good safety culture will empower their pilots not to take risks. They will ensure they do not attempt landings in the wrong conditions and abort takeoffs if something does not add up- as illustrated in this famous Qantas example (“safety before schedule”):

In these circumstances, I fully support being delayed or inconvenienced if I know I will safely reach my destination.

I have long criticised the Indonesian airline Lion air for their poor safety culture. Lion Air’s growth has been impressive but they gave been on my no fly list for at least five years.  Every time a friend or colleague in  Asia attempts to persuade me to try LionAair because they are cheap, I dig my heels in. Throwing together inexperienced pilots in an environment where the planes must be in the air as much as possible within a weak national air safety culture is a recipe for potential disasters. This week’s crash confirms my fears.

Lion Air’s flight JT 610 on Monday initially climbed to 640 metres above sea level and then dropped down to 450 metres. The 737 then oscillated between  1630 and 1370 metres before plunging into the sea. Flightradar24 shows the plane fell  from an altitude of 1479m in just 21 seconds. This is six times the speed of  a normal descent. In those 21 seconds, a passenger would have known that their plane was  in trouble.

Lion Air advised that the aircraft had a “technical problem” the day before which they stated “had been resolved according to the procedure”. No doubt any inquiry will determine if this was indeed the case.
I do not want to pre empt that inquiry but it is time that the Indonesian authorities took air safety in the island archipelago. So many people rely on air travel across Indonesia and they must be protected.
In the meantime, follow the advice of the Australian government who advised yesterday that no one should fly Lion Airlines.
For  which airlines i will automatically fly and those that I automatically avoid,  click here.

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