Maintenance oversights blamed for Batavia Air runway skid incident

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Maintenance issues associated with servo valves in the landing gear brakes of a Batavia Air Airbus A320 aircraft caused the aircraft to veer sharply during a recent landing at the Indonesian city of Balikpapan.

The aircraft, registered PK-YVE, arrived from Bali at midday, veering sharply as it landed on Runway 25. The pilot's attempts to return the aircraft to the runway centre failed, says a report from Indonesia's National Safety Transportation Committee (NTSC).

When the aircraft finally came to a halt it was just 25 metres from the end of the runway, and sitting to the right of the centre line at a sharp angle. Its main landing gear had burrowed 30-40cm into the asphalt.

Initial investigations revealed that PK-YVE had steering and braking system issues since November 2011. The report made specific mention of two out-dated servo valves in the aircraft's landing gear brakes.

Without elaborating, the investigation team also said there was "a poor understanding about [maintenance] procedures, and a lack of effectiveness by the key personnel."

Prior to the incident in Balikpapan, the aircraft was also involved in a similar incident at Jayapura airport on 7 February.

Following this incident, Airbus recommended that Batavia Air conduct unspecified inspections on the aircraft before putting it back into service.

The recommendations were never fully implemented by Batavia Air because the aircraft's diagnostic system did not indicate faults in some of the areas where Airbus suggested that inspections be conducted.

The NTSC adds that engineering personnel may not have understood the pilots' report on the braking and steering system fault.

"Based on the work and statement evidence given, [it is] clear that Batavia Air did not fully comply with the recommendations Airbus had made," it says. "Rectification works made by the airline could not solve the problem until the second incident at Balikpapan airport happened."

NTSC's report recommends that Batavia Air comply with Airbus's recommendations in regard to its braking and steering systems, and ensure compliance with aircraft manuals, the illustrated parts catalogue, service bulletins and other recommendations.

The report also recommends that Balikpapan airport operator, Angkasa Pura I, review its emergency response procedures, with a view to improving cooperation between airlines and airport stakeholders should an incident or accident occur.