01/03/2007, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Possible in-flight blast caused plane crash on land and sea

by Mathias Hariyadi
Telematics experts suggest plane broke up in mid-air causing parts to fall over wide area because the Adam Air Boeing 737-400 emergency beacons are sending signals from different locations. Search for the plane and victims resumes today after yesterday’s false hopes.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The Adam Air Boeing 737-400 that went missing on January 1 with 102 people on board probably exploded in mid air with parts falling on land and others into the sea, this according to Roy Suryo, a respected telematics expert, quoted in Indonesian webzine detik.com.

Search for the plane, which left Surabaya airport at 12:59 (local time) in direction of Manado on Sulawesi Island but never arrived, resumed today after yesterday’s confused reports. Military planes are flying over the western coast of Sulawesi where the missing plane launched its last distress calls before communications were cut on Monday.

Although Indonesian authorities and officials from Adam Air, a low cost air company, have restrained from making any public comment today, others are not as reticent as to what might have happened.

According to Roy Suryo, the fact that Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)’s signals are coming from two different locations might indicate that the plane blew up before it hit land and sea.

“I know that it is a bold claim to say that the plane might have gone off in the air, but specialists with special expertise in flight should be able to explain it with accuracy,” Roy Suryo is quoted as saying in detik.com.

The Boeing 737-400 had two ELTs in separate parts of the plane: a portable beacon in the cockpit using 121.5 MHz frequency and a fixed one the plane’s tail set at 460 MHz frequency that is activated only when the plane hits the ground. Since the plane disappeared, both beacons have been sending distress signals.

For Roy, this means that the plane broke up and its pieces are strewn over land and in the sea. Signals have been picked up from an area between the sea near Majene and Tana Toraja Regency, in South Sulawesi province.

The cause of the crash still remains to be determined, but in an interview with Jakarta-based MetroTV, someone called Felix claimed that some months ago some Adam Air pilots were forced to resign because they objected to fly planes they considered unsafe.

Tonight, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to meet with his ministers and officials to review the situation.

Adam Air was founded in 2002 by Agung Laksono, head of  Indonesia's People's Representative Council. It essentially serves the domestic market with only two international routes, to Singapore and Penang (Malaysia).

A year ago it was speculated that by 2008 the company might be listed in the stock exchange, but soon after it had a serious accident when one of its planes was forced to make an emergency landing because one of its aeronautics systems failed.

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