JAKARTA, Indonesia – Domestic carrier PT Kartika Airlines confirmed they would not cancel their order of 30 Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft despite the plane crash in May, which killed all passengers on board.
The airline’s commercial director Aditya Wardhana said the company planned to start taking delivery of the aircraft as soon as the Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) finished its investigation.
“This is not a delay nor a cancellation. We just need to know the results of the Sukhoi aircraft accident investigation before we operate the aircraft in Indonesia,” Aditya said on Tuesday.
A demonstration flight of the Russian jet went missing with 45 people on board near Mt. Salak in Bogor, West Java at 2:33 p.m. Jakarta time on May 9. A rescue helicopter discovered the wreckage of the missing airplane the following morning on a hillside of Mt. Salak at 5,500 feet above sea level.
Before the crash, Kartika Airlines was scheduled to receive its first Sukhoi planes in September.
The airline ordered the Sukhoi Superjet 100s through a contract with an estimated value of US$951 million in July 2010 at the Farnborough International Air Show in Farnborough, the United Kingdom.
The agreement marked Kartika Airlines as the first company in Southeast Asia to purchase the new Russian jets.
Continuing with its plan, the airline said the Sukhoi aircraft offered certain advantages.
“We are going to use these planes to connect cities in eastern Indonesia because they can land on a shorter runway,” he said.
Based on the company’s plans, the jets are expected to be delivered from the end of 2012 to 2015, and will serve a number of routes including Jayapura-Merauke, Jayapura-Timika and Ambon-Sorong.
Contacted separately, KNKT senior investigator Mardjono Siswosuwarno said that his team expected to finish the investigation by the end of October.
“We plan to finish the investigation by the end of October because the investigation process has been running smoothly,” Mardjono told The Jakarta Post.
Currently, KNKT investigators, assisted by airline psychologists and translators, are synchronizing the ill-fated aircraft’s Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR).
This work will allow the team to understand the conditions in the cockpit and problems the pilots had before the plane went missing.
“We hope we can finish this work within two weeks and after that we will send a draft to the Russian Sukhoi [company] and authorities for recommendations,” he said.
After receiving these recommendations, the KNKT would be able to announce the result of the investigation to the public, he said.
Besides Kartika Airlines, fast-growing Indonesian airline Sky Aviation ordered 12 Russian jets in a $380 million deal and expects to take delivery of the first three in October.
Unlike Kartika’s efforts to build its presence in the eastern Indonesia market, Sky Aviation plans to use the 100-seat aircraft to connect big cities in provinces and regencies in the western part of the country, flying routes such as Jakarta–Batam, Batam–Natuna, and Bandung–Batam.