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Indonesian Air Traffic Controllers warn of higher risk of aircraft collisions, accidents

Complaints of an increasing workload even as Indonesia's main airport struggles to cope with the huge expansion in air travel.

JAKARTA: Indonesia's air traffic controllers have warned of an increased risk of aircraft collisions and accidents unless their workload is eased, even as the country's main Soekarno-Hatta International Airport struggles to cope with the huge expansion in air travel.

The Indonesian Air Traffic Controllers Association (IATCA) complained on Wednesday about the decision by state-run air navigation company AirNav to regularly allow 84 take-offs and landings per hour at the airport, which occurred during the Hari Raya Puasa exodus last month.

"By allowing this, the chance of an accident will increase and air traffic controllers will be the ones who are blamed," IATCA Jakarta deputy chairman Andre Budi said.

The group said the 84 hourly take-offs and landings were beyond the airport's handling capacity, and claimed that it also violates Transportation Ministerial Instruction No. 8/2016, which caps the use of the airport's runways at 74 aircraft per hour and four irregular flights for emergencies.

NEAR COLLISIONS

The IATCA's revelations came amid a string of reports of near collisions, with the latest taking place just last month.

AirNav confirmed that two aircraft came close to colliding with each other on the runway of Soekarno-Hatta airport on June 18, a week before Hari Raya.

Air traffic controllers had to order a Garuda Indonesia flight to abort its landing because a Sriwijaya Air plane, which had earlier aborted its take-off, was still on the runway.

Last year, two Lion Air planes collided on the ground at Soekarno-Hatta airport, with no injuries reported.

Soekarno-Hatta is one of the busiest airports in South-east Asia, serving more than 55 million passengers last year, with 1,200 flights per day.

Indonesia's aviation market has grown by double digits in the past 10 years following the appearance of several low-cost carriers. But the country received poor marks in a 2014 safety audit by the United Nations aviation agency due to insufficient staffing. - JAKARTA POST/ASIA 
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