25 Years ago today: On 26 September 1997 a Garuda Indonesia Airways Airbus A300 crashed in a wooded area on approach to Medan, killing all 234 on board.
|Date:||Friday 26 September 1997|
|Operator:||Garuda Indonesia Airways|
|First flight:||1982-10-06 (15 years)|
|Total airframe hrs:||27095|
|Engines:||2 Pratt & Whitney JT9D-59A|
|Crew:||Fatalities: 12 / Occupants: 12|
|Passengers:||Fatalities: 222 / Occupants: 222|
|Total:||Fatalities: 234 / Occupants: 234|
|Aircraft fate:||Written off (damaged beyond repair)|
|Location:||25 km (15.6 mls) SSW of Medan-Polonia Airport (MES) ( Indonesia)|
|Crash site elevation:||900 m (2953 feet) amsl|
|Nature:||Domestic Scheduled Passenger|
|Departure airport:||Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK/WIII), Indonesia|
|Destination airport:||Medan-Polonia Airport (MES/WIMM), Indonesia|
Narrative: Garuda Indonesia Airways flight 152 from Jakarta to Medan, Indonesia, was destroyed after impacting terrain near Medan. All 234 occupants suffered fatal injuries.
The aircraft, an Airbus A300B4-220, was cleared for an ILS approach to Medan’s runway 05 and was flying on a 316 degree heading on Airway 585/W12. Having descended to 3000 feet the crew were instructed to turn left, heading 240 degrees for vectoring to intercept the runway 05 ILS. The flight crew did not respond to this instruction, as the controller addressed the call to ‘Merpati 152’. The instructions were repeated, this time using the correct call sign. The flight crew replied: “GIA 152 heading 235. Confirm we cleared from a (pause) mountainous area?”
At 13:28 the controller confirmed they were turning towards a mountainous area and the flight was instructed to continue on a 215 degree heading. At 13:30 ATC directed the flight to turn right heading 046 and report when established on the localizer.
Although the clearance for a right hand turn had been read back correctly, confusion on the part of the air traffic controller followed over whether GA152 was turning left or right: “152, confirm you’re making turning left now?” Garuda 152 responded, as cleared, that they were turning right. The controller subsequently added to the confusion by stating: “152 OK, you continue turning left now.”
This was contrary to the crew’s expectations, so they enquired: “A (pause) confirm turning left? We are starting turning right now.” The controller, possibly realising his error, replied: “OK (pause). OK….. GIA 152 continue turn right heading 015.”
Ten seconds later, the Airbus impacted a wooded area, broke up and burst into flames. The wreckage covered a 150×75 m area near the village of Pancur Batu, which is located at 900-1000 meters amsl.
The region was affected by smog from forest fires; visibility was reported to be 600-800 meters.
Probable Cause: “There was confusion regarding turning direction of left turn instead of right turn at critical position during radar vectoring that reduced the flight crew’s vertical awareness while they were concentrating on the aircraft’s lateral changes. These caused the aircraft to continue descending below the assigned altitude of 2000 ft and hit treetops at 1550 ft above mean sea level.”