Pilots Criticized In Indonesian Crash

Investigators say the pilot of an Indonesian jetliner that crash-landed in March, killing 21 people, ignored repeated warnings that he was approaching the runway at almost double the landing speed and should circle around again.

The Boeing 737-400 skidded off the runway at the Yogyakarta airport and plowed into a rice field before bursting into flames. It was the third accident this year involving a commercial jetliner in Indonesia, prompting foreign governments to issue warnings about air safety standards.

Tatang Kurniadi, the chief of the National Transportation Safety Board, said following completion of the final crash report that the Garuda Indonesia plane was approaching at 254 mph - 154 mph faster than normal.

"The aircraft was flown at an excessive air speed and steep flight path angle during the approach and landing," he said, blaming pilot error.

The attention of the chief pilot "was fixated ... on landing the aircraft and he either did not hear or disregarded the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) alerts and warnings," which sounded 15 times, Kurniadi said, adding that the pilot also "ignored calls by the co-pilot to go around" again.

Both survived the crash.

The pilot had more than 15,000 hours of Boeing 737-400 flight experience and the co-pilot 2,000. The March 7 flight, which was carrying several Australian diplomats and journalists, was their first together.

Kurniadi said the investigation also blamed the co-pilot for failing to follow company procedures and take control of the aircraft "when he saw that the pilot in command repeatedly ignored the GPWS ... alerts and warnings."

"The records also showed no evidence that the co-pilot had been checked or received simulator training in the appropriate vital actions and responses," it found.

The European Union blacklisted all of Indonesia's airlines soon after the accident and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration this year downgraded the nation's rating to its lowest category.