Families demand apology on AirAsia crash anniversary

An Indonesian woman holds flowers as families of Air Asia victims wait for a meeting with Air Asia management and police at a local police headquarters in Surabaya on December 28, 2015. (Juni Kriswanto, AFP)
An Indonesian woman holds flowers as families of Air Asia victims wait for a meeting with Air Asia management and police at a local police headquarters in Surabaya on December 28, 2015. (Juni Kriswanto, AFP)

Surabaya - Families of those killed in an AirAsia plane crash in Indonesia demanded on Monday the airline apologise for negligence after a probe showed faulty equipment contributed to the accident, a year on from the tragedy that left 162 dead.

Flight QZ8501 plunged into the Java Sea in stormy weather on December 28 last year during what was supposed to be a routine flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

Relatives of some of the passengers, AirAsia officials and the head of Indonesia's search and rescue agency gathered on Monday in Surabaya, the country's second-biggest city, for a private ceremony to remember those killed in the crash.

Push for reform

It came just weeks after Indonesian investigators' final report showed a chronically faulty component in a rudder control system, poor maintenance and the pilots' inadequate response were major factors in the crash.

Ahead of the ceremony, an association set up by victims' relatives to push for reform of Indonesia's beleaguered aviation sector demanded an apology from AirAsia.

"We the families demand AirAsia apologise openly to victims' families for the negligence that has resulted in fatalities," said a statement from the group.

The statement added that the families were "surprised and shocked" the report showed the chain of events that triggered the accident was set off by "negligence" with regard to the faulty component.

Sunu Widyatmoko, chief executive of AirAsia's Indonesian affiliate, refused to comment on the accident report following the ceremony.

Computer system

The crash of the Airbus A320-200 was the first major setback for the Malaysia-based budget carrier after a spectacular 13-year run of success.

The families also demanded the government stop AirAsia from flying the Surabaya to Singapore route and called on Indonesian authorities to improve aviation safety following a series of air disasters in the country in the past year.

The Indonesian probe found the component, which had cracked soldering, suffered problems 23 times in the 12 months before the crash and cited issues with maintenance.

During the ill-fated flight, the component malfunctioned several times, prompting the pilots to reset a computer system in a bid to fix it. But the plane's autopilot was disabled in the process, leading the crew to lose control.

The crash was one of several aviation accidents in the sprawling archipelago over the past 12 months.


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