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Indonesia inspects Airbus planes after AirAsia crash probe

Airbus A380 lands at Mumbai

Jakarta : Indonesia’s transport ministry today began inspecting all Airbus A320s registered in the country after a probe found a faulty component contributed to last year’s crash of an AirAsia plane with the loss of 162 lives.

The Airbus A320-200 plunged into the Java Sea in stormy weather on December 28, during what was supposed to be a routine flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

An Indonesian investigation released Tuesday found a fault with a system that helps control the rudder’s movement, poor maintenance, and the crew’s inadequate response when a problem occurred, were contributing factors to the crash of flight QZ8501.

To prevent similar accidents, the transport ministry said 18 officials would conduct inspections on the 75 Airbus A320s registered in Indonesia — with AirAsia and three other domestic airlines — and expected to conclude the checks on June 2.

“We will check the technical documents, the operation documents, then the plane itself, with a focus on the RTLU (Rudder Travel Limiter Unit),” said Muhamad Alwi, the director of airworthiness at the transport ministry.

The planes can still operate while the checks are being conducted but if any is found to have “repetitive trouble” with the rudder unit, then it will be grounded, said Suprasetyo, the head of the civil aviation directorate general, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

The probe, by the official National Transportation Safety Committee, showed that cracked soldering in the unit caused it to malfunction and send repeated warning messages to the pilots.

In response, they tried to reset a computer system but in the process turned off the plane’s autopilot, and then lost control of the aircraft.

The component had suffered 23 problems in the 12 months prior to crash, with malfunctions occurring more frequently in the final three months, the probe found.

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