A Defense Ministry spokesman said it was engine failure that caused an Indonesian fighter jet to crash in Kampar district, Riau, on Tuesday morning.
“Temporary assumption is engine failure as he [the pilot] reported there was a malfunction and asked permission to eject,” Hartind Asrin said on Tuesday, as quoted by Antara news agency. He added that the Air Force would investigate further to confirm the preliminary finding.
A British-made Hawk 200 fighter jet crashed into a residential area of Kampar district at about 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The pilot managed to eject moments before it went down.
A witness who declined to be identified said a contingent of jet fighters were practicing when smoke was seen coming from one of them, with the plane nose-diving shortly thereafter. The ejected pilot, 2nd Lieut. Reza Yori Prasetyo, landed in a pond near the crash site.
Air Force chief of staff Marshall Imam Sufaat confirmed Hartind’s remarks.
“There must be something, it is impossible that a pilot would suddenly eject without something wrong,” Imam said. “Probably it was a bird or something else. But I’m sure that it is not human error. Probably the machine. Based on experience, if [the pilot pressed] eject, he must have left the plane knowing something, an emergency.”
But Djoko Suyanto, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, cautioned against any kind of speculation.
“Don’t jump to conclusions, it is better to wait for the investigation results,” he said.
In the wake of the accident, the Air Force has grounded all Hawk 200 fighter jets until the investigation is complete.
Imam said the decision applied to all 32 Hawk 200 fighter jets in Pekanbaru and Pontianak, West Kalimantan.
“They’re grounded until we can find the cause,” Imam said. “If we use them, there might be something else [other accidents].”
According to Imam, the Indonesian government bought the airplanes in 1994. Tuesday’s crash was the first such incident involving the aircraft in Indonesia.JG