Garuda crash blamed on pilot misjudgment

The Garuda Indonesia crash last year in Fukuoka was caused by the captain’s failure to execute proper judgment and follow-through with the takeoff even though one of the aircraft’s engines had failed, a Transport Ministry committee has concluded.

The captain aborted takeoff on June 13, 1996, after realizing one of the DC-10’s three engines had failed and after the plane was about 1.5 meters above the ground at a speed of 164 knots, according to the report compiled by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Committee and submitted Thursday to Transport Minister Takao Fujii.

The captain’s judgment was inappropriate because the aircraft had far exceeded V1 speed at which the aircraft must take off, the report says. The DC-10 is designed to continue flight even if one of its three engines fails.

“The accident occurred at the basic stage of a flight operation,” a committee member said. The jet plowed through a concrete barrier at Fukuoka airport, skidded about 620 meters off the runway and burst into flames. It was carrying 260 passengers and 15 crew members. Three passengers were killed, and 16 passengers and two crew members were seriously injured.

After reviewing training records submitted by Garuda Indonesia, the committee suggested the captain may not have received sufficient training in aborting takeoffs, which may have affected his decision-making ability at the time of the accident.

The report also cites a lack of coordination between Garuda’s flight operation and maintenance sections, because the captain was not informed of previous failures of the same type of engine, which was made by General Electric. Between October 1990 and April 1996, there were 21 cases of blade damage reported worldwide, and GE had issued a notice to its customers on preventive measures, the report says.