Indonesian and US accident investigators are probing why both engines of a Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-300 apparently stopped operating while on descent from cruise, forcing an unpowered emergency landing in a river.

The crash landing occurred at 16.29 on 16 January while the CFM International CFM56-3-powered 737 (PK-GWA) was operating as domestic flight GA421 from Ampenan to Yogyagarta in a heavy rainstorm. One female flight attendant was killed and some of the 59 passengers and crew injured.

The captain reported to Garuda after the accident that the 737 was descending to 23,000ft (7,015m) from 32,000ft when it "entered a cloudburst" and "both engines suddenly failed".

"Despite several efforts to relight, the engines still failed to restart and the aircraft continued to lose altitude," the airline says.

In May 1988, a 737-300 of Argentinian carrier TACA, also descending through a cloudburst with hail, suffered a double engine flameout and had to force-land near New Orleans, USA. None of the 41 people on board was hurt. The engine manufacturer afterwards warned pilots not to set the engines to idle when passing through a storm.

CFM International part owner General Electric declines to comment on Garuda's account, but has sent a team of engineers to the crash site at the village of Serenan on the central Indonesian island of Java. Boeing and the US National Transportation Safety Board have also sent investigation teams.

As Flight International went to press the flight data recorder had been recovered but the cockpit voice recorder had not. The engines had yet to undergo full inspection.


Source: Flight International