What did we say?
Anyone reading about Indonesia will think that a limited vocabulary is sufficient to understand the situation here. One key word is 'disaster'.
Some disasters are natural, think tsunamis and earthquakes, the 'Acts of God' cited by insurance companies to avoid financial liability.
Other disasters are the result of 'human error'; think of trains hitting trucks and buses at road crossings, of overloaded ferries sinking, of rubbish dumps collapsing, of landslides and floods in deforested areas.
It can be argued too that many of the tragic deaths from natural disasters could have been avoided, are exacerbated by human failings. In the Yogya earthquake
, dwellings built using 'traditional' methods suffered the least damage; this is the less is more principle. Many of the deaths from the tsunamis in Aceh and Pangandaran (and elsewhere) could have been avoided if coastal areas hadn't been cleared of the mangrove barriers
to make way for shrimp farms or tourist resorts.
And now we have yet another plane crash
. An Adam Air Boeing 737-400 plane has crashed
with 96 passengers and six crew on board. The plane, reportedly new yet nigh on 17 years old, en route from Jakarta to Manado in North Sulawesi yesterday had made a stopover in Surabaya. Authorities have yet to find it, although they are getting a ringtone from the co-pilot's unanswered mobile phone, which indicates that the plane is inland rather than underwater.
Update 1: 1.30pm local time. The plane has been found
near the town of Polewali in western Sulawesi. Bad weather has been blamed.
Update 2: The plane was NOT found at Polewali. Marek has the details.
Respected commentator Jeff Ooi
in Malaysia gives details of the plane's history and links to analyses of Adam Air's appalling disregard for maintenance and 'crisis management
- Relatives in Manado were told flight was cancelled and gave no further details, so they went home.
- Relatives in Surabaya went to the airport to check what they saw in the news, and they were told it was delayed, and went home.
Jeff also links to something I wrote a year ago about Adam Air
who in a full page advert in the Jakarta Post costing $1,300 had made 10 language errors (out of a mere 79 words!).
Far from their "commitment to always deliver safety flights and best quality services
" I suggested that they cared more for image than customer service.If they couldn't give a sh*t about a simple thing like
(proofreading), then what are the odds that they cut corners on aircraft maintenance?
A week ago, Adam Air was gloating in another ad that they had been given an award as Indonesia's Low Cost Airline of 2006, an award they must immediately forfeit especially as even their pilots think they're a cowboy outfit
. (I'll ignore today's half-page ad in the Post which details every scheduled flight. No-one gets their timing right every time.)
But now we must all ask the basic question: What is the true cost of 'low cost'?
This crash was not an Act of God. Somewhere there was a human error, whether it was a matter of low cost maintenace, an unexpected (yet should have been foreseen) equipment failure, an inaccurate flight plan, a pilot with a medical problem or a hijacking ~ all causes of air crashes ~ remains a matter of conjecture.
No doubt all concerned will profess a belief in 'God'; after all, it's the law here. However, you cannot serve both God and Mammon (Mathew 6.24)
As Pope John Paul said
, "It is necessary to create lifestyles in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments
Air travel has been subsumed into the 'market economy'. In the search for immediate profits - high volume, low cost - the notions of corporate responsibility and customer service are jettisoned with tragic consequences.And the answer to the question posed in my heading is simple and already answered by Indcoup:
The Disaster Waiting To Happen