Cockpit voice recordings and technical data recovered from the black box of the ill-fated Garuda B-737-400 that crashed in Yogyakarta on March 7, 2007 are revealing what may have happened in the final moments before 21 people died and many others were injured.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) quoted the Indonesian chief investigator of the crash as saying the aircraft was travelling at 410 kilometres per hour or "almost twice the normal landing speed" when it crashed. The ABC reports also quoted the Fairfax Newspapers as saying initial reports indicate safety run-off areas at the airport were only 25% of the recommended length.
A separate report in the Melbourne Age carried a more extensive analysis of the crash, reporting:
• The plane was travelling at 410 kilometres per hour when slammed into the runways.
• Aviation experts confirmed that both speed and flap warnings would have been sounding in the cockpit, alerting the pilot to "go round" and abort the landing.
• Yogyakarta's runway fails to meet international safety standards with run-off areas only 25% of the recommended length.
• The pilot of the aircraft reported a faulty reverse thrust problem in one of the plane's engines shortly after take-off.
• The cockpit data recordings did not reveal mechanical problems before landing.
• Weather conditions were calm, contradicting pilot's reports of severe downdrafts.
• The cockpit voice recorder did not substantiate other reports of an argument between the pilot and co-pilot prior to the crash.
• Fire trucks and rescue vehicles were improperly equipped and unable to reach the crash site quickly.
According to The Age, their information was drawn from a full copy of the preliminary accident report, a report – according to the newspaper, Indonesian Transport Minister Hatta Rajasa "attempted to block."
A final accident report from Indonesian aviation authorities has yet to be published and is expected to become available sometime in May.
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