Home / News / World /  Trigana is Indonesia’s third-deadliest crash in last eight months

On Sunday, a passenger flight operated by Indonesia’s Trigana Air Service crashed in a mountainous region of Indonesia in the country’s Papua province. A total of 54 people, including five crew members were on board the Trigana Air Service flight TGN 267, as it took off at 2:22 pm local time from Sentani in Jayapura province.

The ATR 42-300 lost contact with air control authorities roughly half an hour after take-off. It was scheduled to land in Oskibil at 3:16pm local time. The flight duration from Sentani to Oksibil is roughly 42 to 45 minutes.

While initial reports did not confirm casualties, on Monday, a detailed search operation led by several agencies including Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) spotted some wreckage of the flight near the Oksop waterfall, about seven nautical miles from its destination. The fate of those on board is not clear just yet.

Sunday’s air crash is the third of its kind involving an Indonesian airline in the last eight months. In June, an Indonesian Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft crashed shortly after taking off from Medan, killing all 121 people on board. The crash happened near a crowded residential neighbourhood in Medan, also Indonesia’s third-largest city. The aircraft was en route to Tanjung Pinang in the Riau Islands.

Likewise, in December last year, an Indonesia Air Asia flight QZ8501, en route from Surabaya to Singapore, crashed in the Java Sea due to bad weather, killing all 162 people on board.

The last two years have seen several high-profile air accidents—from disappearances, attempted hijacks to shootdowns to crashes, due to pilot errors or bad weather. On 16 February last year, Nepal Airlines flight 183 from Pokhra to Jumla crashed in Dhikura in Argakhanchi district. All 18 passengers on board that aircraft, a Twin Otter, died.

The very next day, Ethiopian Airlines flight 702 en route from Addis Ababa to Rome via Milan, was hijacked over Sudan by the co-pilot, who sought political asylum in Switzerland. The aircraft was forced to land in Geneva and all 202 passengers on board were unharmed during the hijack by Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn.

The next month, on 8 March, a Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared after it deviated from its flight path soon after take-off and disappeared. The flight had 239 people on board, including 227 passengers and 12 crew members. Last month, in July, a piece of marine debris, which was later confirmed as a flaperon from MH370 was found on Reunion Island.

2014 would also witness the deadliest week in recent aviation history, with three air accidents in quick succession. First, on 17 July, a Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was caught in the Ukrainian conflict, when it was shot down over Donetsk by pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists. The flight, which had 298 passengers on board, took off from Amsterdam’s Schipol airport, and was en route to Kuala Lumpur. There were no survivors.

Six days later, a TransAsia Airways flight TNA222 crashed near Xixi village in Taiwan leaving 48 people dead. The very next day, on 24 July, an Air Algerie Flight AH5017 crashed in Mali, leaving 116 people dead. A fortnight later, a Sepahan Airlines flight 5915 crashed in Tehran shortly after departure due to reported engine failure, killing 39 passengers out of the 48 on board.

This year has seen several accidents involving commercial airliners, with two major crashes, including Sunday’s Trigana flight. In March, a Germanwings flight 4U9525 from Barcelona to Dusseldorf crashed in the French Alps near Nice. The crash, according to reports, was deliberately caused by the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who was previously treated for suicidal tendencies and declared unfit to work. Reports also said that Lubitz, during the flight, had locked the pilot out of the cockpit, before he began the descent that caused the crash. All 150 passengers on board died in the crash.

In 2014, according to Aviation Safety Network, 21 fatal airliner accidents resulted in 990 fatalities, which interestingly made it the “safest year ever by number of fatal accidents and the 24th safest year in terms of fatalities." The deadliest year in aviation history in terms of fatalities, was 1972, when 2429 deaths were recorded, followed by 2331 deaths in 1985.

ASN data also reveals that 1946 and 1972 were the worst years in terms of airline safety. Both years witnessed 55 accidents involving a crash, sabotage or a shootdown. The last few years have been the safest for air travel, according to ASN. The reasons for improved safety includes constantly upgrading technology—both in-flight and on the ground—which has resulted in better communication and flight management.

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