Adam Air Grounds Six Boeing 737s

February 22, 2007

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Indonesian budget carrier Adam Air has grounded six Boeing 737-300 planes for safety inspections after the fuselage of one of its aircraft cracked during a hard landing, an airline official said on Thursday.

The Boeing 737-300s, almost a third of the airline's fleet, would not fly until they had passed the safety inspection from the government, Adam Air safety director Hartono said.

The Indonesian government has stepped up safety investigations since an Adam Air plane disappeared in January.

"The planes will be checked before they can fly again, so all the 300-series will not fly today," Hartono said in Surabaya where he was inspecting the cracked aircraft. Like most Indonesians, Hartono only use one name.

"The check is a preventive measure. If there's nothing wrong with the planes they can be flown again."

All 148 passengers on the aircraft that made a hard landing on Wednesday were safe, but the accident prompted a temporary closure of Juanda Airport in Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city and the capital of East Java province.

The body of the plane was cracked through the middle of the passenger section, leaving the tail drooping towards the ground.

On January 1 an Adam Air Boeing 737-400 with 102 people disappeared from radar screens during a domestic flight from Surabaya to Manado in the north of Sulawesi island.

No bodies have been found from the plane, although some debris has been recovered from the sea off South Sulawesi.

That accident sparked widespread discussion of Indonesian aviation safety standards and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono set up a commission to investigate transport safety.

Adam Air said Wednesday's incident was caused by strong wind amid heavy rain at the airport, and the plane, made in 1994, had undergone thorough checks before flying.

The incident had prompted some passengers to cancel flights with the carrier, Elshinta radio reported.

Adam Air, one of about a dozen budget airlines in the world's fourth most populous nation, operates 19 Boeing 737 jets. It serves dozens of domestic routes in Indonesia and also flies to Singapore.

Air travel in Indonesia, home to 220 million people, has grown substantially since the liberalization of the airline industry after the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s.

(Reuters)