Merpati president offers to quit after crash

Singapore
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Merpati Nusantara's President Sardjono Jhony Tjitrokusumo has offered to resign after one of the airline's Xian MA60 turboprops crashed over the weekend.

Indonesia's lawmakers have also waded into the issue, urging the local aviation authorities to investigate Merpati's order for 15 MA60s and ensure the type's airworthiness.

According to local news reports, search staff recovered the cockpit-voice recorder from Flight MZ8968, which crashed into the sea on approach to Kaimana, off West Papua, from Sorong. Chinese investigators are on the way to Jakarta to help their Indonesian counterparts, say newspapers.

There are conflicting reports on the number of passengers and crew on board, with the media putting it at either 25 or 27. Officials from both Merpati and the Director General of Civil Aviation's office could not be reached for comment.

"I am ready to tender my resignation if the error was from Merpati's side," Sardjono said at his office on Monday evening, according to news reports. He added that the crash was not due to a shortage of fuel.

On Monday, Indonesian lawmakers said that an investigation needs to be carried out into whether the aircraft passed "verification standards". With Merpati due to take two more of MA60s, they also urged the airline to delay the delivery and ground the remaining 12 until investigations are over.