JAKARTA - Indonesia has ordered officials who allowed Indonesia AirAsia to fly the now-suspended Surabaya-Singapore route on Sundays - which it apparently had no permission for - to be removed from their duties.
It is seeking to tackle the issue of what one expert called "the jungle of our aviation system".
The Transport Ministry yesterday also made it mandatory for all pilots to have a face-to-face briefing with an airline flight operating officer (FOO) before departure, after questions were asked about whether the pilots of ill-fated Flight QZ8501 had received a weather update and briefing before it took off two Sundays ago.
Yesterday, three more bodies were found, bringing the total number to 37, as recovery teams expanded their search in the Java Sea.
But locating the plane's black box flight data recorders proved elusive amid bad weather.
Mr Djoko Murjatmodjo, acting director-general of aviation, told reporters yesterday that those involved in helping Indonesia AirAsia flout its route permit - flights allowed only on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays - included airport staff and Transport Ministry officials.
"We issued orders... to move these staff from a position related to flight operations," he said.
"We are looking into why this had gone on for months. We hope to finish investigations quickly."
Mr Murjatmodjo said the ministry is also checking the airline's flight schedules to see if they match its permits or agreements.
Checks are also being conducted on all other airlines in Indonesia, he added.
On the mandatory briefings, he said: "(The briefing is) not only about weather. The FOO should also detect if a pilot is not in good health."
Aviation expert Ruth Hanna Simatupang told the Jakarta Post that briefings with FOOs were not a new procedure but these were not complied with in Indonesia.
"Nothing's new about the policy, it is a standard that has been applied regularly in the world. It is just one of the problems in the jungle of our aviation system. There are a lot of problems that need to be fixed in our aviation system," the former National Transportation Safety Committee investigator was quoted as saying.
She said that at the briefing, which takes about 20 minutes, the FOO would give the necessary documents such as weather reports to the pilots.
Based on these, the pilots make their flight plan and submit it to the FOO, who may make suggestions. The FOO eventually passes it on to air traffic control.
Mr Murjatmodjo said the AirAsia incident was a reminder that all airlines have to follow regulations. The impact of not complying could bring about chaotic aviation operations in Indonesia, he said.
Mr Sunu Widyatmoko, Indonesia AirAsia's chief executive, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
This article was first published on January 6, 2015.
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