SMS sent from doomed plane

2012-04-26 14:19

Jakarta - The South African pilot and his Australian passenger who were killed when their Susi Air plane crashed in central Indonesia have been named.

They were the only people on board the Pilatus PC-6 aircraft, which was carrying the Australian photographer on a chartered flight, the airline's operations director Christian Strombeck told AFP on Thursday.

The airline identified the pilot as Jonathan James Willis, 28, and Indonesian officials identified the passenger as Ian McDougall. The Australian government said he was 57.

"The plane crashed Wednesday at around 17:30 local time (09:30 GMT), and the bodies were found at around 01:30 Thursday," he said. Another official had initially said the plane crashed at 01:30.

"The Pilatus PC-6 aircraft was flying in East Kalimantan to do some aerial photography when it crashed," Strombeck added.

Last text message

"The passenger in the airplane sent a text message to his office in Jakarta, more or less saying 'there is a fuel problem, we will try to make an emergency landing on a village road'," Strombeck said.

"We estimate that the plane crashed two or three minutes after they sent the message," he said.

The plane crashed about 30km from the remote village of Muara Ritan in Kutai Kartanegara district on the island of Borneo, according to the airline and government officials.

"The aircraft crashed at the edge of a ravine," said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesperson for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

The airline said it was investigating the crash and grounding its six remaining single-engine Pilatus aircraft until further notice.

"We still don't know how it could have been a fuel problem. The fuel tank was full and it was supposed to last for seven hours. We don't want to speculate at this point," Strombeck said, adding the plane had flown for five hours.

Susi Air is a small domestic airline that operates mostly Cessna Grand Caravan planes, a few smaller Pilatus planes and other aircraft. Many of its flights are to remote and difficult regions.

In November, one of the company's Cessnas crashed while trying to land in Indonesia's remote Papua region, killing a Spanish pilot.

Another of its aircraft crashed in September in Papua province, killing an Australian and Slovakian pilot.

"It's not easy to deal with an accident like this," the airline's owner Susi Pudjiastuti told reporters in Jakarta after the latest crash.

"Sometimes I ask myself whether I should continue (flying to difficult areas) or quit," she said.

The Indonesian archipelago of more than 17 000 islands relies on air transport to reach remote areas and has a poor aviation safety record.

Read more on:    indonesia  |  air crashes

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


The truth about painkillers and exercise

Many of us use painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines to mask pain so they can continue with their training.


Where were you when you last felt alive?

This all-terrain vehicle is badass!
Where were you when you last felt alive?
Watch: Fishing under ice
This is why you need to get fit in your 20's

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on electronics!

Get mind blowing savings on top electronic products. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


You may be spending too much time organising and trying to control things to make sure everything is perfect instead of more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.