A Criminally Bad Landing?

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The pilots of a 737 that crashed in Indonesia in March, killing 21 people, should be prosecuted, Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on Tuesday. Five Australians died in the crash. A report by Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee, released on Monday, found that during the approach, 15 warnings and alerts were sounded by the Ground Proximity Warning System and the copilot called for the pilot in command to go around. The PIC ignored all those warnings, flew a steep, fast approach, and touched down at an airspeed of 221 knots with only 5 degrees of flap, 87 knots faster than the landing speed for 40 degrees of flap. "The copilot did not follow company procedures and take control of the aircraft from the PIC when he saw that the pilot in command repeatedly ignored the GPWS alerts and warnings," according to the report. Downer said in an ABC World interview that based on that report, he would like the Indonesian authorities now to look into the possibility of prosecutions.

The Indonesian report recommends safety-of-flight enhancements for airline operators, but does not discuss the matter of criminal responsibility.