Lion Air Probed over Landing without Nose Gear

JAKARTA ~ A Lion Air plane was forced to land without its front gear but all 156 passengers survived, officials said, in the latest blot on the country’s poor air safety record.

The incident occurred late on Monday when the Lion Air McDonnell Douglas MD-90 jet on a domestic flight from Medan was unable to release its nose gear as it approached Batam island’s Hang Nadim airport, near Singapore.

“The plane failed to release its nose gear when preparing to land in Batam,” Transport Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said.

“It was flying over the airport for about an hour trying to resolve the problem and emptying fuel to avoid any possible blaze during the landing.”

Nine people were reportedly treated for shock.

Ervan said the accident was under investigation.

Indonesia is trying to prove it has done enough to fix its air safety record and remove a European Union ban imposed in 2007 which prevents Indonesian airliners flying through EU air space.

Several low-cost airlines ply routes linking the massive archipelago’s thousands of islands.

Twenty six people were killed when a Lion Air MD-82 plane skidded off a runway in the central Java city of Solo in 2004.

The budget airline, which serves various Indonesian destinations and some regional capitals, has had other near-misses in its 10-year history.

A Garuda Indonesia passenger jet crashed in Yogyakarta in 2007, killing 21 people. The pilot is standing trial for negligence after he allegedly ignored multiple warnings that his air-speed was too fast for landing.

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