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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flight Following using Mobile Satellite Services, and the Indonesian Telecommunications Law

In an effort to improve safety, airline sin Indonesia has begun looking for new Flight Following solutions that can comply with or exceed CASR 121.125, as well as easing operational communications through alternatives opened by CASR 121.127. But to date, no Indonesian company has managed to provide 3rd party Flight Following service as defined in CASR 121.125 (b).

121.125 Flight Following System: Flag, Domestic and Supplemental Air Carriers
(a) Each air carrier must show that it has: 
    (1) An approved flight following system established in 
        accordance with Subpart U of this part and adequate for 
        the proper monitoring of each flight, considering the 
        operations to be conducted; and 
    (2) Flight following centers located at those points 
        (i) To ensure the proper monitoring of the progress of 
            each flight with respect to its departure at the 
            point of origin and arrival at its destination, 
            including intermediate stops and diversions 
            there from, and maintenance or mechanical delays 
            encountered at those points or stops; and 
        (ii) To ensure that the pilot in command is provided 
             with all information necessary for the safety of 
             the flight. 
(b) The air carrier may arrange to have flight following 
    facilities provided by persons other than its employees, but 
    in such a case the air carrier or commercial operator
    continues to be primarily responsible for operational 
    control of each flight. 
(c) A flight following system need not provide for in-flight 
    monitoring by a flight following center. 
(d) An air carrier's operations specifications must specify the 
    flight following system it is authorized to use and the 
    location of the centers.

121.127 Flight Following System Requirements: Flag, Domestic and Supplemental Air Carriers
(a) Each air carrier using a flight following system must show 
    (1) The system has adequate facilities and personnel to 
        provide the information necessary for the initiation and 
        safe conduct of each flight to: 
        (i) The flight crew of each aircraft; and 
        (ii) The persons designated by the air carrier to 
             perform the function of operational control of the 
             aircraft; and 
    (2) The system has a means of communication by private or 
        available public facilities (such as telephone, 
        telegraph, or radio) to monitor the progress of each 
        flight with respect to its departure at the point of 
        origin and arrival at its destination, including 
        intermediate stops and diversions there from, and 
        maintenance or mechanical delays encountered at 
        those points or stops. 
(b) The air carrier must show that the personnel specified in 
    Paragraph (a) of this section, and those it designates to
    perform the function of operational control of the aircraft, 
    are able to perform their required duties.

It is understood that:
121.125 (a)(2)(i) Flight Following only require departure time, arrival time of the flights, including those of transit stops and information on maintenance or mechanical delays at each stop (including at origin, and at destination).
121.125 (c) specifies In-flight monitoring (real time position report) as optional.
121.125 (d) requires Part 121 carriers to disclose the service and/or methodology used for the Flight Following, to be put into the carrier’s OpsSpec.

Flight Following Services offered by foreign companies offer excellent service quality and is backed by communications channel that surpasses voice radio communications on VHF, of which one alternative method is through satellite data communications service.

Unfortunately, many of those foreign companies do not understand the rules and regulations that apply in Indonesia regarding communications that is outlined by the Telecommunications Law (UU No. 36 Tahun 1999) which specify that all telecommunications devices including satellite communications over Indonesian territory must comply to its articles as it is regarded as a use of limited resources in the preamble.

Increase the role of the citizen in the provision of telecommunication does not discard the basic principle of Article 33 Para (3) of the Constitution  (Undang-Undang Dasar 1945), which defines that earth and water and the natural resources contained therein is controlled by the country and is to be used to the fullest extent to the welfare of it’s people. Therefore, the use of radio frequency spectrum and satellite orbits are regarded as limited natural resources controlled by the state.

Hence, satellite telecommunications providers are regulated by the law through:

Article 7
(1) Provision of telecommunications include:
    a. the provision of a telecommunications network; 
    b. the provision of a telecommunications service;
    c. the provision of special telecommunications.

Where it is explained that:

Point c
Provision of special telecommunications such as for meteorological and geophysical purposes, television broadcast, radio broadcast, navigation, aviation, search and rescue, amateur radio, citizen band communication, and state or private company special telecommunications provision.

Special telecommunications service providers are regulated in the following article:

Article 8
(1) Provision of a telecommunications network and or 
    telecommunications service outlined in Article 7 para (1)(a) 
    and (b) can be performed by a legal entity set up for that 
    purpose in accordance to the applicable laws, which can be 
    one of the following:
    a. State Owned Enterprise (SOE/BUMN);
    b. Regional Government Owned Enterprise (RGOE/BUMD);
    c. private company; or
    d. Co-operative.

(2) The provision of special telecommunicationas per Article 7 
    para (1)(c) can be made by:
    a. an individual;
    b. a government agency;
    c. a legal entity other than a telecommunications network 
       provider or a telecommunications service provider.

The equipment used and usage of the frequency spectrum is regulated as follows:

Article 32
(1) Any telecommunications equipment that is traded, constructed, 
    assembled in and or imported into and or to be used in the 
    territory of the Republic of Indonesia must obey the   
    applicable technical standards and is based on permits
    issued in accordance to the applicable laws.
(2) The technical standards of telecommunications equipment 
    mentioned in para (1) is controlled by a Government 
    Rule/Decree (Peraturan Pemerintah).

Article 33
(1) The use of radio frequency spectrum and satellite orbit must 
    obtain the approval of the Government.
(2) The use of radio frequency and satellite orbit must be in 
    accordance to its purpose and not interfere with each other.
(3) The Government oversees and controls the use of radio 
    frequency spectrum and satellite orbits.
(4) Rules and regulation of the use of radio frequency spectrum 
    and satellite orbits for telecommunications provision is 
    controlled by the Government.

Article 34
(1) Use of the radio frequency spectrum shall incur a frequency 
    use cost, the amount of which is based on the type of use and 
    the frequency band.
(2) A user of a satellite orbit shall pay the Satellite Orbit 
    Right Of Use.
(3) The amounts mentioned in Para (1) and (2) is regulated/ 
    decreed by the Government.

Some exemptions are available to foreign aircraft entering Indonesian territory:

Article 36
(1) Communications equipment used by foreign civil aircraft that 
    enters Indonesian territory are exempt from the technical 
    standards mentioned in Article 32.
(2) A foreign civil aircraft entering Indonesian territory shall 
    not use the radio frequency spectrum for purposes it is not 
    designed for, except:
    a. for the purpose of national security, preservation of 
       human life and assets, natural disasters, impending 
       danger, outbreak, navigation, and air traffic safety; 
    b. when connected to a telecommunications network that is 
       operated by a telecommunications provider; or
    c. when it is part of satellite communications system where 
       the usage of which is made in accordance to the applicable 
       regulations in the provision of aeronautical 
(3) Rules and regulations regarding the use of radio frequency 
    spectrum mentioned in para (2) is controlled by the 

The exemptions for foreign aircraft are only for Article 32 (equipment certification). No exemptions are granted for Article 33 and Article 34. However, discussing the effects of foreign aircraft violating Articles 33 and 34 can be endless. Some have tried thinking it is just a "roaming charge" on top of their normal airtime/usage fees. Unfortunately, it is not, this one will take time to work through to find a workable solution.

Let us focus back on the meaning of the Telecommunications law and how it relates to the Indonesian Civil Aviation Safety Regulation, in particular Part 121. The conclusion the legality of the use of Mobile Satellite Services for Flight Following under both CASR 121 and the Indonesian Telecommunications Law, is that the use of Mobile Satellite Services for Navigation and Air Safety for Indonesian airlines, is NOT EXEMPT, especially the parts where it exceeds the minimum requirement of CASR 121.125 and 121.127.

In accordance to the government regulations that is enforced under the Law No. 36 / 1999 on Telecommunications, service providers (from any country) offering satellite communication services to a companies operating in Indonesia (including airlines) must:
  • Be able to show landing rights for the particular satellite telecommunications service and the frequencies used.
  • Be able to issue Radio Station Permit (ISR - Ijin Stasiun Radio) from the government to the satellite telecommunications service user (eg: an Indonesian airline)
  • Be able to facilitate the payment for the use of the frequency spektrum right of use (BHP - Biaya Hak Pakai) which is based on the ISR, from the user to the Indonesian government (BHP atas ISR)
  • Be able to obtain certification it offers to the user in accordance to Article 32 of the Telecommunications Law.

If one thinks that his law is not enforceable, or will not be enforced, THINK AGAIN!

To be continued...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lufthansa to serve FRA-SIN on the A380... what about Jakarta?

On 20th May, Lufthansa announced that Frankfurt-Singapore will be served by the A380 from 30th October onwards. This means that LH778/779 will no longer fly to Jakarta.

If you think this is the end of Lufthansa in Indonesia, well, don't worry... LH790/791 will serve Jakarta-Singapore-Munich instead! So from 30th of October, we'll stop seeing the Lufthansa 744s and will begin to see Lufthansa A340-300s.

It's good to see this European carrier continue to see Jakarta as a destination worth serving with their own metal!


20.05.11: Lufthansa’s third A380 destination in Asia – Flights to Jakarta from Munich from start of winter timetable
From 30 October, when the winter timetable goes into effect, Lufthansa will operate a daily A380 service on its Frankfurt-Singapore route. From that date, one of the eight A380s in the Lufthansa fleet will take off from Frankfurt at 22.05 hrs under flight number LH 778 bound for Singapore. On 30 October, Lufthansa will also transfer its service to Jakarta via Singapore from Frankfurt to Munich. The route will be operated with an Airbus A340-300. Passengers arriving in Singapore on the A380 flight from Frankfurt will have plenty of time to transfer to the onward flight to Indonesia.

The A380 can accommodate 526 passengers in comfort – eight in First Class, 98 in Business Class and 420 in Economy class. Meanwhile, Lufthansa’s flagship has scored top marks in terms of technology, ecological efficiency and sustainability. With a fuel burn of only 3.4 litres per 100 passenger-kilometres, it is about 30 per cent quieter than previous wide-bodied jets.

Frankfurt – Singapore (from 30 October 2011) A380 schedule (all times are local times)
  • LH 778 Frankfurt 22:05 hrs – Singapore 16:55 hrs (following day)
  • LH 779 Singapore 23:55 hrs – Frankfurt 05:55 hrs

Munich – Singapore – Jakarta (from 30 October 2011) A340-300 schedule (all times are local times)
  • LH 790 Munich 21:30 hrs – Singapore 16:50 hrs (following day)
    • LH 790 Singapore 18.00 hrs – Jakarta 18:50 hrs
    • LH 791 Jakarta 20:05 hrs – Singapore 22:45 hrs
  • LH 791 Singapore 23:59 hrs – Munich 06:10 hrs

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dropping the dead donkey! The Merpati MA-60 crash at Kaimana continued

Continuing on from "Let's be fair shall we?" blog article , I had complained about all the talk in the media and politics being irrelevant to the accident (they can rattle their sabers all they like). In that blog article I mentioned that the visibility was 2 kilometers and that the visual approach into Kaimana in that condition would be illegal.

Some have asked me in private where I got the information from (most of the media articles only mentioned "bad weather") and few have even said, "how dare you accuse?"

Today I come across two links related to the accident that occured on 7th May:

  1. Aviation Safety News - interim safety recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Comission
  2. Preliminary accident investigation report from the NTSC (in Indonesian)

The report mentioned:

  • Kaimana has no instrument approach procedures, therefore the approach has to be performed under Visual Flight Rules.
  • Weather information (at 0300Z) for Kaimana prior to departure was 8km visibility, 4/8 cloud cover at 1400ft cloud base, wind from the south east at 6 knots and surface temperature was 29C. The flight was legal to start.
  • Passing JOLAM At 0425Z, aircraft provided an ETA of 0454Z to Kaimana AFIS. Kaimana AFIS reported the weather conditions as: 3-8km, few cumulonimbus with cloud base f 1500ft, wind from south west at 3knotd and surface temperature of 29C.
  • At 0430Z aircraft descended from 15500ft, and was requested to report again 5 minutes out.
  • At 0442Z, aircraft reported 7NM out passing 8000ft. Crew asked if it was still raining and was replied that it was, and they decided to proceed to the south of the airfield.
  • At 0445UTC, aircraft reported to be 15NM south of the airfield at 5000ft and waiting for a change in weather. Airport was still raining with 2km vsibility.
  • The last contact with the aircraft was around 0450Z where the crew asked if the visibility has changed. AFIS replied that the visibility was still 2km and that the threshold of runway 01 can be seen from the tower.
  • The aircraft impacted at roughly 800m south east from runway 01, 500m from the coastline. Most of the wreckage sunk in shallow waters of 7 to 15 meters deep.
  • AFIS received reports from eyewitness as the impact location was obscured from the tower by trees.
  • Aircraft was destroyed, 25 people had died.
  • FDR was retreived on 9th May and the CVR retrieved the next day.

Safety Actions:

  • DGCA has conducted an audit of Merpati since 10th May.
  • Merpati has issued a safety recommendation on 11th May:
    • Aircrew are reminded to abandon the approach/landing if the conditions dictate.
    • Pay attention to the visual flight rules and instrument approach minimum
    • Observe the 9 criterias of a stabilized approach.
    • Reinforce the mandatory training and simulator sessions including windshear, CRM, approach landing accident reduction and go-around indoctrination.
    • Dispatchers to provide the latest weather information and anticipate flights to Return To Base.
    • Ensure technical inspections on pre-flight, transits and daily checks as per the checklists and immediately report each finding to the Maintenance Control Center.

The NTSC has issued the following recommendations:
  • To Merpati Nusantara Airlines:
    • Ensure that visual flight is being conducted in accordance with VFR conditions, and conduct training on the MA60 Crew Simulator with an emphasis on CRM in the face of the bad weather.
  • To the Director General of Civil Aviation:
    • Monitor the implementation of the recommendations in point A , to be carried out  by Merpati Nusantara Airlines.
  • To Directorate General of Civil Aviation and Directorate of Airports:
    • Review the provisions of the use of facilities / equipment, especially the airport runway lights to enhance the safety of flight operations, especially in low visibility conditions.

So, whilst the facts has been established, the question remains, WHY DID THEY ATTEMPT AN APPROACH BELOW MINIMA? (in the meantime, politicians and born-yesterday heroes can continue to rant senselessly!)

The Merpati question: How do you rescuscitate a dead pigeon?

Indonesia's two state owned carriers are poles apart. Whilst Garuda is rapidly reducing its losses whilst undergoing a major turnaround effort and an IPO, it's sibling, Merpati, continues its slide into doom. There appears to be no end to Merpati's slow death as no one is willing to put it into a major turnaround like Garuda, and no one is willing to bravely say enough is enough.

Merpati's managements' public comments are nothing short of laughable or clueless. In an article at Detik.com (link to article) in March, the CEO complained in a parliamentary hearing on the DPR's 6th commission (covering transportation and state-owned enterprises). There, he complained about several things:
  1. He felt that Merpati's business was being affected by Garuda's LCC arm, Citilink. He stated that Citilink should be abolished, "There is Merpati, why is Merpati allowed to be poked around? Both are owned by the government and the money made goes back to the government anyways!"
  2. He felt that Citilink should not be considered at all as it operates under Garuda's AOC. "If it has its own AOC, then we can talk!"
  3. He went further to attack LCCs. According to him, the LCC concept has been violated by airlines in Indonesia and that the regulations must be changed for a more level playing field. "Look at Air Asia. One should look and ask if any regulations have been violated. (If not, then) The regulations should be reviewed. There is no way for anyone to operate the A320 profitably on short haul!"

So, whilst he was attacking the LCC operations, he then stated, "Merpati is going aiming to be a premium carrier with full services."

I personally wonder how the CEO selection process was made.

I leave it to you all to judge based on the following:
  • Citilink and Merpati, compete on 2 routes. Jakarta-Surabaya with Citilink 6x daily (Merpati 2x weekly), Jakarta-Makassar, and Jakarta-Denpasar with Citilink 1x daily (Merpati 4x weekly).
  • A320 short haul operations can be profitable. Indonesia Air Asia posted a massive leap in profits for 2010, and is the country's largest A320 operator, and also the most profitable carrier on a per-aircraft basis.

Let me end this short rant with the question and a choice of answers:
"How do you resuscitate a dead pigeon?"
  1. No need, cut it's head off and end it's misery?
  2. Use a defibrillator for an elephant?
  3. Shove a cyanide pill down it's beak?
Haven't we had enough of shoving our tax Rupiahs for the dead pigeon?
The story continues at The Merpati Question Part 2: Predators vs Pigeons

(Thanks to Riazy for the corrections on the competing routes!)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bisa fair gak yah kita?

Kecelakaan MA-60 Merpati di Kaimana memicu diskusi dan perdebatan mencapai titik ngawur beyond belief. Selama in saya males posting mengenai ini di social media demi menjaga akal sehat saya, namun, diem juga panas ngeliat yang lain meng-asbun!

Kebanyakan dari debat nya mutar-muter di "pesawat bikinan Cina", "gak ada sertifikasi FAA", dan "Ngapain kita pake pesawat bikinan Cina? Kan kita ada CN235?"

Hal yang menggelitik dikepala saya adalah tidak ada satupun yang koar-koar masalah fakta seputar kecelakaan itu sendiri. Bandara Kaimana memiliki 1 NDB dan tidak ada instrument approach procedures. Artinya, mau mendarat disana harus melakukan visual approach dimana jarak pandang harus 5 kilometer atau lebih. Dibawah itu, sorry, illegal!

Semua orang mencuap-cuap mengenai buruknya MA-60, dan semua tidak ada yang mau melihat bahwa pada saat kejadian, jarak pandang di Bandara Kaimana dilaporkan hanya 2 kilometer... YA!! DUA KILOMETER ! Mau coba mendarat pakai CN235 atau ATR atau pesawat lainnya dan jatuh... orang-orang masih mau nyalahin pesawatnya kah?

Saya denger-denger dari "koboi-koboi" dan pasukan pendukungnya, kalau mau mencoba masuk dengan kondisi cuaca dibawah VFR Minimum (5 kilometer jarak pandang tadi), mereka menggunakan GPS. GPS tentu saja bisa memberikan panduan setingkat VOR/DME approach, namun membutuhkan GPS yang sudah di-approve untuk digunakan dalam approach dan harus menggunakan approach procedure GPS yang sudah resmi (alias bukan bikinan sendiri, atau menggunakan waypoint untuk guidance only).

Jika sedang "bermain dengan takdir", anda berada di area yang tidak ada perlindungan terlepas dari berapa kali anda pernah melakukannya. Ketika melakukan GPS approach yang ilegal, bagaimana ketika anda go-around? Kalau melakukan approach runway 01 di Kaimana, ingat, ada bukit-bukit di sebelah utara bandara dan escape path anda adalah belok putar arah 180 derajat ke kiri diatas laut. Ini kedengarannya gampang tetapi jika anda melakukan beloknya secara visual, jangan kaget kalo anda kena spatial disorientation!

Jadi, bisa fair gak kita? Saya tidak suka MA-60, menurut saya itu pesawat yang siap jatuh kapan saja, namun dalam kasus kecelakaan ini, lebih baik kita tidak terpaku dalam sudut pandang subjektif kita dan melihat kejadiannya secara objektif! NGAPAIN COBA MENDARAT KALO KONDISI CUACANYA MENGAKIBATKAN ANDA MELAKUKAN APPROACH YANG ILEGAL?

Kapan yah bangsa kita bisa berhenti menyalahkan apa saja selain kita sendiri di saat dimana yang salah itu memang cuman kita sendiri? Bisa fair gak yah kita?

Let's be fair shall we?

The Merpati MA-60 accident in Kaimana have stirred the country to the point of being ridiculous. Whilst I have kept away from its discussions in the social media to keep my sanity, sometimes, one just cannot stay quiet!

Most of the debate have evolved around "aircraft made in China", or "it is not FAA certified", and, "Why are we using planes made in China when we have our locally built CN235?"

It is very disturbing that no one seems to bother to check the basic facts of the accident. Kaimana Airport, has 1 NDB, but no instrument approach procedures. To land at Kaimana airport, one has to approach visually, meaning, the visibility has to be 5km for you to even start the approach, otherwise one would be illegal.

So with all this talk about how bad the MA-60, everyone seems to ignore the fact that weather at the airport was reported at 2 kilometers, yes, TWO kilometers. Do this on a CN235, an ATR, or any other plane, and crash... Would people still blame the aircraft?

I have heard "cowboys" and/or their backers say they can land below the VFR minimum by using the GPS. Sure, GPS can give you down to the equivalent of a VOR/DME approach but only if your GPS is approved for approaches AND if you are following a certified GPS approach procedure.

Now when you start "playing with fate", you're on uncovered territory regardless how many times you've been in that situation before. When you conduct an illegal GPS approach, what happens when you go-around? If you are approaching Kaimana for runway 01, remember the hills beyond the airport and that your escape path is to make a 180 left turn over the water. This sounds simple, but, to do so in instrument meteorological conditions while making the turn visually can and most likely will give you spatial disorientation!

Let's be fair here! As much as I do not like the MA-60, as much as I think it's a plane wreck waiting to happen, in the case of this accident one must not just look at one's view and be objective... WHY LAND WHEN THE CONDITIONS WOULD YIELD YOU AN ILLEGAL APPROACH?

When will people here stop blaming anything but ourselves when we have only ourselves to blame? Let's be fair shall we?

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