Indonesia's plane crash problem


Another Indonesian passenger jet went down, this time with 54 people on board.

The ATR42-300 turboprop aircraft operated by Trigana Air Service was carrying 44 adult passengers, five children and five crew members when it went missing during a short domestic flight Sunday. All of those on board were Indonesian, authorities told CNN Indonesia. … The search over rugged, densely forested terrain was halted overnight because poor weather and a lack of light made an already dangerous landscape even more challenging.

A second search plane has been dispatched to verify the debris spotted Monday, Col. I Made Susila Adyana, an Indonesian Air Force official in Papua, told the national news agency Antara.

The obvious reasons why we see so many crashes there—poor safety standards in the world's fourth-most populous country—belie a "nexus of geography, economics, and politics".

An archipelago stretching across over 3,000 miles in the southwest Pacific Ocean, air remains the most practical mode for travel between different parts of the country. In poorer parts of Indonesia, such as Papua, road and rail infrastructure is poor or nonexistent, making air travel a necessity. … [but] corruption remains endemic—and aviation, among other industries, have suffered as a result. Pilots, air traffic controllers, and mechanics are poorly compensated, and the country "also has been reluctant to allow outsiders complete access when working on search-and-rescue missions, perhaps because the government fears exposing the ineptitude of some of the country's air regulators and controllers."

The missing plane, pictured above, was almost 30 years old.