Investigators have detailed the final moments of the Xian Aircraft MA60 which crashed in the
sea while attempting to land at Kaimana Utarom airport in West Papua.
The Indonesian transport ministry says the effort to retrieve the flight recorders from the
Merpati Nusantara Airlines turboprop involves dives to a depth of 15m (50ft)
It identifies the airframe as bearing registration PK-MZK, and serial number 2807, and says
that it was trying to land in poor weather on 7 May after a service from Sorong’s Domine
Eduard Osok airport from where it had departed at 12:45 eastern Indonesia time.
Operating as flight MZ8968 the 56-seat aircraft, manufactured last year, was carrying 21
passengers – among them three children – and a crew of six: two pilots, two flight attendants
and two technicians.
While the aircraft was expected to land at 13:55, says the ministry, it had to wait for an
improvement in the “very bad” weather at Kaimana airport, which included “heavy rain and
The MA60, inbound from the north-west, had been intending to land on runway 01.
“The procedures for landing at the airport are unique,” says the ministry. It says that flights
arriving from Sorong must cross the mountains “to the left of the runway” – possibly a
reference to the terrain east of Kaimana airport – then make a left turn in preparation for the
The pilot’s final contact with air traffic control showed that the aircraft was ready to land. “But
afterwards it lost direct communication,” says the ministry, adding that the aircraft
subsequently crashed into the sea, about 600m from the runway, at 14:05.
It states that the aircraft had logged 615h in 764 flight cycles and, being relatively new, had not
undergone any heavy maintenance. The ministry defends the Chinese-built MA60, stating that
it meets Indonesian safety requirements and points out that the type is used in China,
Myanmar, the Philippines, Laos and other countries.
“We want certainly to know the cause of the accident,” says the ministry. “It will all become
known when we examine the flight recorder.”
Poor weather could hamper the recovery of the recorders, the ministry warns, as well as the
retrieval of casualties. Seventeen of the 27 occupants had been retrieved by 8 May