Singapore keeping watch on Indonesia carriers flying here

Singapore keeping watch on Indonesia carriers flying here
Singapore's civil aviation authority has been monitoring Indonesian carriers that fly here closely since 2007.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Singapore's civil aviation authority has been monitoring Indonesian carriers that fly here closely since 2007.

This is after several countries highlighted safety concerns with these airlines, a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said.

Aviation experts noted that air safety regulators in the United States and Europe have in the past highlighted safety concerns and in some cases, banned Indonesian carriers from entering their airspace.

The CAAS was responding to queries from The Straits Times on whether checks on Indonesian carriers have been stepped up after investigations into an Indonesia AirAsia crash on Dec 28 last year highlighted aircraft maintenance and pilot training concerns.

The spokesman for CAAS stressed that the safety of air transport and travellers is paramount and, with this in mind, the authority conducts periodic ramp inspections on foreign carriers' aircraft when they are in Singapore.

How often these checks are done depends on the authority's risk assessment of the carrier.

In the case of Indonesian carriers, CAAS has been conducting more frequent ramp inspections over the last few years, she said.

As part of an overall tightening of foreign aircraft surveillance, all airlines flying here must now have an operating permit issued by the CAAS.

Before the new rule kicked in last year, foreign carriers could fly here as long as they were licensed by their respective civil aviation authorities.

To date, the CAAS has issued permits to 90 foreign carriers that operate scheduled flights and 126 operators of non-scheduled services.

The AirAsia group - comprising the main carrier in Malaysia, as well as affiliates in Thailand and Indonesia - is a key player in Singapore's air travel sector, with about 40 flights a day to Changi Airport.

Despite the concerns raised by Indonesia's National Transport Safety Committee in a 206-page accident report made public on Tuesday, there seems no significant impact on AirAsia's operations in Singapore.

Flights in and out of Changi Airport operated normally yesterday with the usual two or three delays.

Despite Indonesia's less than glowing air safety record, experts said the country is on the right track and seems committed to cleaning up the sector.

The European Commission's newly appointed director-general for mobility and transport, Mr Henrik Hololei, told The Straits Times during a recent visit to Singapore: "I met the Indonesian minister for transport a couple of days ago and his message was very clear... Safety for him is the first priority and I was very much convinced of what he said."

This article was first published on Dec 3, 2015.
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