The crash of a Merpati Nusantara Boeing 737-300 on 13 April has again cast a spotlight on safety and maintenance standards among Indonesia's airlines.

The aircraft - registration PK-MDE - broke up after it overran the runway while landing at Manokwari Airport in West Papua and plunged into a river. There were no fatalities among the 103 passengers and crew, but approximately 20 people were treated for injuries at nearby hospitals, according to Merpati's company secretary Sukandi. The aircraft was completing a flight from Sorong in West Papua when it crashed at approximately 11:00, he adds.

  © Jamie Bourke and Mark Farquhar

"It was raining very heavily when the incident took place," says Sukandi. "We understand that the aircraft overshot the runway by several hundred metres and went into the river. All of the passengers managed to get out safely before the aircraft broke into a few pieces and sank."

 © Jamie Bourke and Mark Farquhar

The aircraft had been in service since 1990, according to Flightglobal's ACAS database.

There have been several incidents involving Merpati aircraft over the last year. A Merpati de Havilland Canada Twin Otter crashed in West Papua on 2 August, killing all 15 passengers. A Fokker 100 made an emergency landing on West Timor in December after its left main landing wheel failed to deploy properly, and the wheel on the landing gear of a 737-400 fell off in July as the aircraft was taking off from an airport in eastern Indonesia.

  © Jamie Bourke and Mark Farquhar

Merpati is banned from operating in the European Union, as are all other Indonesian carriers bar four: Garuda Indonesia, Airfast Indonesia, Mandala Airlines and Premiair parent Ekspres Transportasi Antarbenua. These carriers were removed from the blacklist in 2009. In 2007, a blanket ban had been imposed on Indonesian carriers by the European Commission after the country failed an International Civil Aviation Organisation safety audit.

  • More images on AirSpace

Source: Flight International