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Search begins for aircraft carrying 10 people in Indonesia

Aviastar shared "perhaps the last" photo of missing plane on their Twitter account.

Aviastar shared “perhaps the last” photo of missing plane on their Twitter account. Photo: Twitter

A plane has gone missing in eastern Indonesia in yet another blow to the beleaguered aviation industry in the archipelago

The plane, which was carrying 10 people including three children, was a Twin Otter owned by Aviastar, an Indonesian domestic passenger airline based in East Jakarta.

Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata said the plane was expected to land in Makassar, the provincial capital of South Sulawesi, at about 3.40pm Friday afternoon.

However he said it lost contact eleven minutes after it took off from Masamba, also in South Sulawesi, at 2.30pm local time.


“We are still confirming the area where the flight went missing,” Mr Julius said. The flight time from Masamba to Makassar should take 70 minutes.

Deputy chief of operations of the national search and rescue agency, Heronimus Guru, said all passengers and crew were Indonesian.

The agency, which is called Basarnas, is combing the area.

Chief operations spokesman Deden Ridwansyah said Basarnas had sent a team from Bone and Palu to set up a tactical centre in Masamba.

“Since the lost contact happened not too long after take off, we believe the plane is still in the Masamba area. We are coordinating with local authorities to gather information such as if any locals saw the plane.”

He said the weather was quite clear at the time but there was strong wind in the area.

Aviastar, which flies domestic routes, said it had lost contact with the aircraft in the mid-afternoon and it had then contacted search authorities.

Indonesia has a patchy aviation safety record and has had three major air crashes over the past year, including an AirAsia flight that went down in the sea on a flight from Surabaya to Singapore in late December, killing all 162 people aboard.

According to Aviation-safety.net, Aviastar has had four fatal incidents, including the crash of a British Aerospace 146-300 aircraft in the eastern province of Papua in 2009, killing all six crew on board.

In August, a passenger airliner crashed in Papua killing all 54 people aboard.

More than 100 people were killed in June in the crash of a military transport plane in the northern city of Medan, prompting the government to promise a review of the ageing air force fleet.

Struggling to cope with the expansion of air travel, Indonesia scored poorly on a 2014 safety audit by the UN aviation agency. 

with Amilia Rosa, Karuni Rompies, Reuters

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