JAKARTA ~ Aviation authorities have grounded 18 pilots for breaking safety regulations by landing in thick haze in the past month, an official said, as the smog returned to Kalimantan in the absence of rain.
Two pilots responsible for a Mandala Airlines jet that skidded off the runway while landing in thick haze at a Kalimantan airport on October 3 were slapped with a one-year flying ban, said the transport ministry official.
The rest “were grounded for two months each for violating air safety regulations,” Ady Gunawan, head of the ministry’s aircraft operations subdirectorate, said.
Gunawan said the sanctions were meted out because the pilots “knew that visibility at the destination airport was below the permitted safety level, but they still went ahead and attempted to land.”
The acrid, eye-watering haze has smothered areas in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore for weeks, triggering criticism of the government for failing to act against the fires, an annual event ahead of the planting season.