Pilot of Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 speaks out for first time

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-400 at Singapore Changi Airport on February 4, 2007. It is nearly identical to the one that crashed.
Image: Terence Ong.

Marwoto Komar, pilot of Garuda Indonesia Flight 200, a Boeing 737-400 which overshot the runway in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on March 7, killing 21, has spoken to the media for the first time about the accident. Five of the deceased were Australian.

"I am deeply, deeply mourning for the victims and for the Australians," Mr Komar told News Limited . A recent report found his actions to be chiefly responsible for the disaster, finding that he had ignored fifteen automated warnings that he was going too fast, and describing him as fixated with landing. As a result, he is likely to face criminal charges.

Mr Komar broke down outside his Jakarta residence as he told reporters “I didn't plan for this to happen. The point is that I want people to know I am deeply in mourning and also that I understand what the families feel. I just did my job as normal, as usual, flying as a pilot.”

Mr Komar is currently undergoing psychological treatment for mental problems caused by the crash. His flying license has been suspended. "Every day I am here at home, I have never run away. I have explained everything to the KNKT (Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee) and to the police," he said.

Mr Komar said he couldn't comment on technical aspects of the crash, or of the criticisms of his conduct, as the matter is still under police investigation. He is likely to face negligence charges which carry a prison sentence if convicted.

Three other Garuda employees are currently being questioned in Jakarta by police as part of the investigation. They've been told that they are being interrogated as "witnesses".

Meanwhile, Emirsyah Satar, managing director of the airline, has announced an intention to resume flights to Europe next year, assuming success in a current bid to get the airline off the list of air carriers banned in the EU, where all Indonesian airlines were placed earlier this year. He suggested Amsterdam as the most likely destination.

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