Local News

Automated systems may have caused Lion Air crash

On 29 October, Lion Air Flight 610 plunged into the Pacific Ocean minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia. The brand new Boeing 737-8 carried 189 passengers and crew, all of which perished, in the first ever crash of the new model of Boeing’s best-selling short-haul passenger jet. The aircraft involved in the incident was almost brand new, being delivered to Lion Air on 13 August 2018, but already had a troubled history. The airspeed indicator system, including the Angle-of-Attack (AOA) sensors had suffered issues on previous flights, with maintenance  workers inspecting and replacing the system before the Bali to Jakarta flight. Even so, the issues still prevailed, with a near-catastrophic failure on the Bali to Jakarta flight, the last journey of the doomed plane.  Passengers reported heavy shaking and sudden changes in altitude, and the pilots had called for a “pan-pan” emergency, one level below the dreaded “mayday”. Though the pilots managed to complete the flight successfully, a 20 degree difference between the right and left AOA sensors was recorded.

On the morning of the 29th, the captain of Flight 610 had asked the controller to return to Jakarta three minutes into the flight due to flight control problems. The request was immediately granted, but the plane never turned back. It immediately descended, with the altitude continuously fluctuating. Experts looking at the recorded data noted that Flight 610 was also travelling at unusually high air speeds during the entire descent, in excess of 300 knots when lower altitude flying is restricted to less than 250. The final recorded altitude of the aircraft was 760 metres, having dropped 910 metres just 10 minutes into the flight. Based on the debris, Indonesian authorities concluded that the plane was intact at the moment of collision and was travelling at high speed, with the engines still running. Workers on an offshore oil platform reported seeing the aircraft strike the water at a steep nose-down angle.

Investigations put the design of the new Boeing 737-8 under scrutiny. With the improvements in technology, automation has become a key factor in any modern aircraft systems. One of the new features in this generation of 737’s is an emergency system designed to protect against stalls – statistically the most common cause of accidents. By reading information from the AOA sensors, the plane would automatically push its nose down for up to 10 seconds without the pilot’s authorization. With erroneous data being fed from the sensors, it would thus be possible for the plane to pitch forward at a surprise to the pilots. In 2008, Qantas Flight 72 experienced a similar mishap with an A330-301 utilizing a similar system. The aircraft made two sudden pitch down maneuvers outside of the pilots’ commands, causing serious injuries to the passengers aboard. The pilots declared a Mayday and made an emergency landing.

The FAA and Boeing issued a statement on 6 November that such a scenario would be possible on new 737 models and recommended to all operators that should the aircraft enter an uncontrolled pitch-down, the flight crew should shut off the electricity powering the control surfaces in the tail. For the Lion Air flight, this information comes too late. Prompted with a sudden crisis, it is unlikely that even the most skilled pilots would intuitively think to manually override the aircraft’s advanced control systems. [The Iron Warrior November 14, 2018]


Indonesia to free Bali Nine drug smuggler Renae Lawrence: official

The only female member of the “Bali Nine” heroin-trafficking gang will be freed from an Indonesian prison next week, a corrections official said Monday, after serving 13 years in a case that caused a diplomatic furor. Australian Renae Lawrence, 41, was arrested in 2005 after she was caught with 2.6 kilograms (5.7 pounds) of heroin strapped to her body as she tried to fly out of the international airport on the holiday island of Bali. Lawrence was sentenced to life imprisonment, but her sentence was later reduced to 20 years and then further reduced due to good behavior.

“She will be released on November 21,” Made Suwendra, head of the Bangli prison on Bali where Lawrence is incarcerated, told AFP. “(Lawrence) is a nice person. Accommodating, easy to work with and be friends with. There have been no problems since she’s been here.” It is likely that Lawrence will be deported shortly after her prison release. She will be the only member of the Bali Nine to win their freedom so far.

Gang ringleaders Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were executed by firing squad in 2015, sparking a diplomatic row between Australia and Indonesia, which has some of the world’s strictest drug laws including the death penalty. In June, another Bali Nine member Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen died in prison from stomach cancer, while the remaining five are currently serving life sentences. Some critics have lashed out at the Australian police for tipping off their Indonesian counterparts about the gang and putting its members at risk of execution in Indonesia. High-profile cases like that of Australian Schapelle Corby, who spent more than nine years behind bars for smuggling marijuana into Bali, have stoked concern that Indonesia is becoming a destination for trafficked drugs. Corby was deported in 2017 after several years of parole. [Coconuts Bali November 12, 2018]


Indonesia leans on businesses to do more about plastic waste

The Indonesian government is set to make consumer goods manufacturers more responsible for managing the waste from their product packaging, in a bid to tackle one of the worst plastic trash problems in the world. The regulation, expected before the end of this year, is part of a wider effort to cut Indonesia’s waste output by 30 percent by 2025 from current levels, according to Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, the environment ministry’s head of waste management. The so-called extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulation will oblige producers and retailers to redesign their product packaging to have a higher proportion of recyclable material. It will also require that they take greater responsibility for the management of waste from their products.

Those affected will include makers of processed foods and beverages, who rely heavily on plastic packaging for their products. Retailers such as supermarkets and convenience stores will also be subject to the EPR requirements in terms of the packaging options they offer customers, as will food and beverage outlets that currently use plastic utensils, plates and cups. “The roadmap addresses the way [producers carry out] waste reduction, especially for plastic,” Vivien told reporters on the sidelines of the recent Our Oceans Conference in Nusa Dua, Bali. Indonesia is one of the world’s producers of plastic waste, much of which ends up in the sea. Vivien said an EPR requirement already exists under the Waste Management Act of 2008, but it hasn’t been easy to enforce it. “Because when we talk about this problem, we’re talking about whether industry is ready to carry out EPR,” she said.

Ocean waste was one of the key topics discussed by government officials, business executives and civil society representatives at the Bali oceans conference. Indonesia, a country of more than 250 million people, is the biggest contributor, after China, to the plastic trash crisis in the oceans. It produces 3.22 million tonnes of mismanaged plastic waste every year, of which 1.29 million tonnes ends up in the sea, according to environment ministry figures. The businesses that will be subjected to the EPR regulation will be expected to draw up a 10-year plan identifying the proportion of waste from their products that they will take back and recycle, Vivien said. They will be required to either set up their own recycling facilities or partner with existing facilities, she added. Producers will also be expected to establish drop boxes where consumers can dispose of their product waste for processing. Besides the post-retail recycling requirements, producers will have to increase the recyclable content of their products, Vivien said, and ideally look to create goods that are reusable. [Mongabay November 12, 2018]


Bali Governor Koster insists North Bali airport to move ahead while Jakarta prevaricates on issuing location permit

Beritabali.com reports that Bali’s newly elected Governor, I Wayan Koster, has confirmed plans will go ahead to build a new international airport in North Bali at Kubutambahan, Buleleng, assuring all concerned that the essential “location permit” (penlok) will soon be issued by the Ministry of Transportation. Original plans to build the airport on an artificial island of reclaimed land have been abandoned with the airport now planned to be part of the mainland of Bali. The cost of Rp. 25 trillion to build the airport on reclaimed land and the technical challenges prompted the decision to build the facility on land.

Lobbying hard for the issuance of the location permit by the Ministry of Transportation, Koster has held meetings with the Minister on August 10th, August 27th and       September 4, 2018. Since first being proposed by Bali’s former Governor Made Mangku Pastika, the proposed North Bali International Airport (BIBU) has been surrounded in controversy with many communities vying to become the preferred location and, later, problems over land acquisition surfaced. At one point the airport was to be built on a reclaimed island, but is now planned for the shore of Kubutambahan. A Canadian Airport Consultant Airport Kinesis Consultant has been engaged to design the airport.

The total project will consume an estimated 1,400 hectares and is seeking to be energy self-sufficient generating power from sea currents and wave actions. Originally, plans to build the airport on reclaimed land were touted for its ability to preserve 400-600 hectares of agricultural fields and avoid disturbing local religious sites. Project developers must now socialize the new plan and a loss of traditional lands to the surrounding community. In the absence of an official permit from Jakarta, PT Bandara Internasional Bali Utara (PT BIBU) has pushed ahead with the project by holding religious ceremonies at the site in August 2017. At that time, developers claimed construction on the new airport would start in 2017. Plans revealed at the time included a supporting power plant covering 150 hectares, a 600 hectare Aero City, school, hospital, mall and recreational park. The airport would include two runways and a passenger terminal. A yacht terminal adjacent to the airport has also been discussed together with a critical toll road to connect the proposed airport to the rest of the Island. [Bali Discovery November 5, 2018]


639 Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets across Indonesia working to eliminate single-use plastic drink straws

Antara reports that Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has since 2017 joined the #Nostrawmovement to eliminate environmentally destructive single-use plastic drinking straws as a part of their business. Over the past year, drinking straw dispensers have been removed from 630 KFC outlets across Indonesia. Some environmental groups place single-used plastic drinking straws as the fifth biggest contributors of plastic ocean waste globally.

The #Nostrawmovement was formally adopted on a national basis by KFC on May 8th – International Coral Reef Day. Initially adopted by 6 KFC outlets in Jakarta in 2017, the program was expanded at the end of 2017 for the entire Jabodetabek (Greater Jakarta Metropolitan Area). According to Hendry Yunianto, a senior manager nationally for KFC, the company is working to spread  environmental awareness among its customer base, seeking their cooperation in refusing plastic straws whenever purchasing drinks from one of their outlets or at other food outlets in Indonesia.

While the initial program reduced plastic straw usage by 45%, KFC is seeking to eliminate completely the use of plastic straws nation-wide. By the end of 2018 and with the introduction of the program at all 630 KFC stands across Indonesia, plastic straw usage is targeted to be reduced by 54%. It is estimated that every day people using one-time use plastic straws do so 1-2 times a day amounting in Indonesia alone to 93,224,847 plastic straws being used each day at restaurants, for packaged drinks, and other purposes. An Indonesian environmentalist said the 10 cm long straws used by consumers in Indonesia need 500 years to be broken down in the natural environment. Plastic straws are typically made of highly resilient polypropylene. When these items do break down they are rendered in micro plastics that become an inimical material that are absorb into the human body and the wider natural environment causing problems that remain yet to be fully understood. [Bali Discovery November 5, 2018]