Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Indonesia was optimistic that the European Union will lift its flight ban in June, 2009, thus enabling the national flight carriers to enter European air space again.

Such optimism could be seen from the information obtained from the transportation ministry which was believed the European Union in June would lift the ban preventing Indonesian aircraft from entering European airspace and clouding Indonesia`s airline services since 2007.

Following Indonesia`s bad aviation safety record as marked with many air accidents, the Commission in 2007 banned all Indonesian airlines from flying to European air space.

Harry Bhakti, the ministry`s directorate general, said here on Friday, his side had received a letter on May 18 from the European Commission signaling a positive response in relation to the lifting of the flight ban.

According to him, the letter was a reply to a long distance conversation between the ministry and the commission, regarding the findings of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), tempointeraktif.com, reported.

The ministry stated that the six remaining requirements stipulated by the ICAO had been fulfilled. The ICAO, however, had yet to inspect first-hand three of the six points, covering the carrier`s operation and supervision, and the installation of flight safety equipment.

"ICAO plans to conduct an inspection in Jakarta on June 15," Harry said.
The three other points already approved by the ICAO cover licensing, the addition of inspectors and the establishment of a National Air Transportation Safety Commission (KNKT).

"So, we have complied with their requests," Harry said.

The results of Indonesia`s work to improve its air safety system will be presented to a European Commission Conference in Brussels, Belgium, late in June.

In the meantime, an expert on international law, Said Nizar who is a lecture at the Hassanuddin University of Makassar said that it was time for Indonesia to breath fresh air of European air space into which Indonesian aircrafts are banned from entering.

The EU flight ban on Indonesia had been several times extended since late 2007 and therefore the government should show serious attention to efforts to prevent air accidents from happening to civilian flights.

A series of air accidents in the country was believed to be the reason for EU to extend its flight ban on Indonesian airlines, Nizar said.

"We should make the necessary corrections and improvements to secure flight safety. The EU needs to be informed about this, that we are responsible for the improvement of flight safety and security," he said.

Better communication and consultation were aimed at making the European Union know that Indonesia is serious in improving and maintaining its domestic flight safety and security.

"The flight operators need to devote more attention to flight safety. Therefore the regulators should not be lax and permissive in this case, if there is a deviation that may risk flight safety," he said.

"Drawing a lesson from many accidents in the past ten years regardless of the EU ban, we have to make all out efforts to improve transportation safety," Nizar said.

Last November, a five expert member team of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) led by Frederico Grandini last November to audit and verify the condition of Indonesian airline companies including their regulators and operators predicted that the flight ban would likely be lifted at the end of 2007.

In fact, the European Union (EU) prolonged its flight ban despite such improvement already made by the government of this largest archipelagic country.

The result of their work as they noticed that improvements had been made in the skills of the pilots and crew members, maintenance and others, both hardware and software really made Indonesian Transportation Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal satisfied.

The team, comprising Jean-Luis Ammeloot of EASA (Germany), Declan Fitzpatrick (EASA, Ireland), Dick Nederlof (EASA, the Netherlands), Annette Ruge (EASA, Germany) and Auke Tjeerd Sebastian van der Weide (EASA, Germany), was satisfied with the current condition of the Indonesian airline companies.

Regarding the regulators (based on their explanations to the transportation minister), Minister Jusman said the team noticed that several things, especially regulations, still needed improvement, although not fundamentally.

On the EU team`s findings that needed improvement by the regulators and operators, Jusman said they had yet to make a final decision as they were only a team handling technical matters, and no decision makers.

Actually, the European Union had praised the steps taken by Indonesian government, but still awaiting approval from the 26 European Union member countries that the improvements made by Indonesia were permanent.

The transportation minister said the most important thing was that he had expressed the Indonesian government’s wish for the lifting of the flight ban on 51 Indonesian airline companies since July 6, 2007.

Even the team had noticed such improvement Indonesia had made in flight safety, but the UE was still reluctant to lift its ban on all Indonesia airline companies. "Isn`t that strange?", Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry Teuku Faizasyah said.

What was hard to receive in the past was that Indonesia had done everything to improve the fligt safety in relations to the operator and regulators in the country`s airlines, but the country still could not get the appropriate response.

In fact, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) had reached 60 percent in improving flight safety and therefore it was quite logical for Indonesia to expect better results and assessment from the EU.

"We also regret such unilateral ban imposed by the EU before consulting it first with Indonesia. The judgement made by the EU has yet to satisfy Indonesia," Teuku said.

With the European Union`s refusal to lift its flight ban on all Indonesian airlines, this largest archipelagic country has been internationally mocked again, Bachrul Hakim, an aviation observer said.

"Indonesia has really been mocked. This is a setback because our country continues to be considered a marginal one incapable of securing its flight safety," he said when contacted by phone.

With the positive signal on the lifting of the flight ban on Indonesia air carriers, Bachrul said Indonesia should uphold flight safety by reducing flight accidants.

Source: www.budpar.go.id