Airliner catches fire at Indonesian airport

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Friday, June 19, 2009

The terminal buildings and gardens at Soekarno-Hatto Airport
Image: Daniel Berthold.

An airliner has suffered an explosion and caught fire at Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia. The plane was being dismantled for spare parts and there were no injuries.

The plane was at a maintenance facility operated by Garuda Maintenance Facilities, a subsidiary of Garuda Indonesia. Ownership of the plane is unclear, with Tempo Interactive saying that reports indicated Thailand's Phuket Air owns the plane and the Jakarta Globe quoting GMF corporate secretary Dwi Prasmono Adji as saying the plane belonged to Global Air Services.

Adji also told the Globe that the aircraft has been parked at the airport for the last five years. "The airline has gone bankrupt and the plane was being taken apart so they can resell the pieces," and the fire occurred as several technicians cut the plane up, he said.

Herry Bhakti Singayuda, the Ministry of Transportation's director general of civil aviation, attributed the explosion to the presence of fuel in lines on the plane's right wing, which was being cut up. Singayuda also said the accident occurred outside a hanger and prevented injuries.

GMF spokeswoman Siska Tobing said the explosion was heard at Terminal 1 of the airport, which serves Jakarta.

Singayuda and other Indonesian officials are currently in negotiations with the European Union in the hope of removing the nation's carriers from the list of airlines banned in the EU. This event is the second such coincidence, with the EU's last visit in March seeing one of Lion Air's McDonnel-Douglas planes crash-landing at the same airport.