Sunday, April 23, 2006

Flights In Indonesia 

An Expatriate living in Jakarta wrote this entry, but I thought it worth including as it is quite interesting. This is doing the rounds of expat emails at the moment, so not sure who it originated from...

Dear All Friends,
Fear Factor : Flying in Indonesia _ D A N G E R !

Recently on the way back from my holidays in Bali I took a flight from Denpasar to Jakarta with Adam Air. I've heard about these relatively new airlines from several friends who all mentioned that they have a brand new aircrafts and are authorized to fly to Singapore. It sounded extremely good especially considering the one way tickets price of Rp. 295.000,- which was just a bit higher than offer from the cheapest 'metro-mini' style none-budget carrier Lion Air. The offer seem to be so good that base on my experience of living in Indonesia for several years, I immediately started thinking that this is just too good and there must be something wrong.Anyway, I decided to try my luck and fly with Adam Air and apparently many other passengers thought the same, as the flight was totally booked.Comparable to Garuda flight which had almost no passengers.

When boarding Adam Air, I immediately noticed that the Boeing 737-400 aircraft had engine cover scratched everywhere, wings were all dirty and had broken paint in several places, door also looked very old and far from my expectations of the brand new airplane. Nevertheless, I decided to test the level of my fear of flying and get on the plane. Just for the record I noted the airplane registration code PK-KKI (see Table of Adam Air asfollows).

When arrived in Jakarta I looked up the airplane code in the database and the 'brand new' aircraft that I was flying apparently had its first flight on 10th December 1988, thus being 17 years old age aircraft, which if
compared humans, the airplane would be in its late forties. In its long life the mentioned airplane also traveled a lot as it was previously used by Sahara India Airlines, Sierra National Airlines and Air Belgium (first owner), thus having pretty much interesting life as an aircraft.Now a question arises if I had a bad lack to fly with the only old airplane in Adam Air's fleet or actually the fleet is not as new as I've expected.

Following my curiosity I prepared a Table of Adam Air owned aircrafts
providing the age of each aircraft :
Registration Aircraft First flight date Aircraft Age
PK-KKF 737-200 12-02-1980 26
PK-KKN 737-200 21-03-1980 25
PK-KKQ 737-200 16-01-1981 25
PK-KKJ 737-200 03-02-1982 24
PK-KKL 737-200 12-04-1984 21
PK-KKE 737-300 31-08-1987 18
PK-KKP 737-200 31-05-1988 17
PK-KKH 737-400 11-07-1988 17
PK-KKU 737-300 04-08-1988 17
PK-KKI 737-400 10-12-1988 17
PK-KKD 737-400 22-12-1988 17
PK-KKR 737-300 09-01-1989 17
PK-KKT 737-400 05-09-1989 16
PK-KKG 737-400 07-01-1991 15
PK-KKC 737-400 09-01-1992 14
PK-KKA 737-500 10-06-1997 08 [only 1 (one) aircraft ]

Looking at that I feel I was actually lucky as the 17 years old aircraft I had a pleasure to fly with is actually very new if compared to another Aircraft used by Adam Air registered as PK-KKN (KKN is actually one of the
most popular acronyms in Indonesia originated from Korupsi-Kolusi-Nepotisme) which at a current date is 25 years old.

Comparable to human age this aircraft would be in its late seventies and probably already having one spot booked at the graveyard. Based on the table above we can also calculate an average age of the Adam Air's fleet, which is 18 years. Actually, there was only one airplane that was less than 10 years old and if I'm not mistaken that must be the Adam Airaircraft authorized to land in Singapore.

Clearly, many passengers chose Adam Air airlines thinking about the new airplanes, when actually the fleet is full of refurbished aircrafts with only one relatively new aircraft which is used by Adam Air marketing team to create an image or rather mirage (khayalan belaka), of having fleet of newaircrafts.

Maybe Adam's Air definition of 'new' is somehow only for local Indonesian definition, thus I might have wrong perspective. To verify that I compared age of major Indonesian airlines and came up with the following statistics of Indonesian aircraft carriers average age of the fleet :
Garuda Indonesia - Age 10.0 years
Lion Air - Age 17.3 years
Adam Air - Age 18.1 years
Awair - Age 18.8 years
Merpati - Age 21.6 years
Batavia - Age 23.4 years
Sriwijaya Air - Age 23.5 years
Mandala Airlines - Age 23.9 years
Bouraq Indonesia Airlines - Age 25.1 years

Shocking ! With 18 years old fleet of elderly aircrafts Adam Air comes on the third position of the newest aircraft fleet in Indonesia. Garuda Indonesia leads with 10 year old fleet. Another great surprise is that
none-budget carried Lion Air comes second with just a little over 17 years old fleet. That is almost half older fleet than Garuda Indonesia. The list is closed by Bouraq Indonesian Airlines which with 25 years old
fleet gives me an idea of a Fear Factor stunt-man 'Flight with Bouraq' for trial & error-test of flying phobia (penyakit ketakutan / gamang).

Mandala Airlines comes second from the end.

Having Mandala Airlines so low in the list reminds me about the Mandala's Boeing 737- 200 crash on 05th September 2005 which resulted in total body count almost 150. At the date of incident the PK-RIM aircraft was almost 24 years in service. For comparison the Lion Air's McDonnell-Douglas MD-82 airplane that crashed in Solo Airport on 30th November 2004 at the date of incident that resulted in 25 fatalities was 20 years in service. At last report, it had accumulated 56,674 flight hours and 43,940 landings !I somehow think that it's not just a coincidence that the aircraft thatcrashed were at least 20 years old.

To compare that to the foreign airlines, I checked the average age of fleet of previous owners of the Adam Air's PK-KKI aircraft I was flying with.
Blue Panorama Airlines : Age of the fleet - 11.6 years
Sahara India Airlines : Age of the fleet - 10.5 years

Interesting, 11.6 years and 10.5 years which I think proves that both airlines found this plane too old to operate, while Adam Air management thinks operating 17 years old aircraft is perfectly fine ?

Browsing through recent newspapers I've found several articles that will be a good conclusion for this post.

The first one comes from The Jakarta Post (dated 11th February 2006) : An Adam Air Boeing 737-300 plane serving the Jakarta-Makassar route was forced to make an emergency landing Saturday at the small Tambulaka Airport in Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara, a spokesperson for Adam Air said. The plane took off from Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at 6:20 a.m. with 145 passengers on board. It was scheduled to land at Hasanuddin Airport in Makassar at 9:25 a.m. local time, Suwandi, Adam Air supervisor for Makassar, said. There is a one hour time difference between Jakarta and Makassar.However, navigational problems caused pilot Tri Tuniogo to lose contact with the destination airport, he said. The plane was later found to have landedat Tambolaka at 9:45 a.m. local time.

'No one was hurt in the incident,'Didik, Adam Air's public relations officer for Jakarta said, adding that the emergency landing was made due to bad weather. 'As to whether it was a storm or heavy rain that forced the
pilot to land, we remain uninformed,' he said.

Ok, so there was a bad weather and airplane had to land. Nothing unusual, right ? Until you read the follow-up published on the Valentine's day. The Ministry of Transportation considers that Adam Air committed a serious violation when operating a plane still required for 'evidence' following a serious incident affecting the navigation system of the plane. 'That is a serious violation and the first ever committed by an airline in Indonesia. The Adam Air management needs to be examined in connection with it,' the Ministry's Director General of Air Transportation, Iksan Tatang, said replying a reporter's question here on Monday.

Adam Air's Boeing 737-300 aircraft with flight number DHI728 had made an emergency landing at Tambolaka airstrip in West Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara, after wandering for three hours due to a navigation system failure on its way from Jakarta to East Nusa Tenggara with The Director General said the plane should not have been flown pending an examination by the National Committee of Transportation Safety (KNKT) and the Directorate ofAirworthiness Certification.

That's interesting. Previously it was a bad weather and now it is a navigation system failure. Huh ?

I think the real story came up only because of the serious violation committed by Adam Air. FYI two of my friends flight with Lion Air from Manado and airplane had serious malfunction to the extent that the stewardess ordered everyone to wear a life vest.

Fortunately flight finished without fatalities and nothing appeared in news -p robably thanks to the KKN acronym I've mentioned before. You probably wonder how old was that Boeing 737-300 which got navigation system failure acka landed because of bad weather ? Looking at the age of Adam Air's
737-300 fleet, the plane must be at least 17 years in service. That is probably 3 years too short to have this small incident resulting in fatalities and adding another Indonesian airplane crash to the list.
Looking at the whole picture, I predict there will be at least one Indonesian aircraft crash before the end of this year 2006. Thus, have a nice flight everyone!

And I took the family on Lion Air on a recent holiday. May need to rethink using them.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

The students:

As a starting point, I find them quite different from the students in Jakarta. Here they are loud, in their personal interactions and the manner in which they communicate with each other. They are more open, not as cautious, yet have a certain naivety that is refreshing and quite endearing. They allow themselves to laugh, to joke, to have fun, all is not so serious. Peer relationships seem to be very important, same as Jakarta and they relate with one another in a myriad of different ways. For instance, one student insists on having a Mohawk style haircut, not shaven at the sides but standing up tall in a great parrots crest from crown to back. Yet I have never heard the students tease him, in fact he is accepted and liked by the others, though he dares to step outside the norm. This is, in fact, about the most daring you will get. There is a boy in year 9 who wears a beanie and I have noticed that jail fashion i.e low slung pants, is evident here and there (though hidden by a shirt) but again, it’s not much of a rebellion. They seek to conform to most cultural teenage norms of their socio-economic grouping, and by conforming they are protected from the harshness of life often found amongst teenagers in Australia.

The tough kids might exist among themselves, but in class I have yet to meet one. They are, by and large, kind and generous teenagers, thoughtful at times, yet not schooled in the social niceties one would expect based on ones own cultural values. They push past, do things without asking that would raise eyebrows back home, and they do it with an innate sense of right. That is, the right to do what they will under certain circumstances. This is an obvious direct effect of the manner in which they are raised. As an expat I am accorded levels of respect or deference not sometimes shown to others. If an Indonesian teacher gets up to address a group, there is usually a bit of chatting and talking amongst the kids (this a cultural norm, viewed time and again in different settings). If an expat teacher gets up, there is silence. The kids seem to understand the different cultural expectations placed upon them by successive exposure to expat teachers.

The classes are easy in management, a simple glance or quiet word is enough to control the most unruly student, group harmony is important and most students will not allow serious disruption to it. Thus, they act as their own monitors of acceptable behaviour, the more conscientious ones sometimes reminding the more exuberant ones of their noise level, or calling attention to their inappropriate actions etc. This is fascinating to watch as the reminder is not turned on by the remindee but instead is accorded respect and will for a moment at least heed the call of the reminder. In Australia the reaction would be completely different.

However, there is a lack of focus, a lack of attention to academic endeavour. The students, in general, do not seem to value study nor time management. Assessments are rushed, no matter how much one takes them through process, timelines, etc. One could spend time ensuring students are working to a specific timeline of process objectives in class, only to find that as the time nears for the final copy suddenly a student is unprepared. This happens particularly if one allows a certain amount of work to occur at home. Often students will tell me they had left the final parts of the assessment until the night before, yet they had been reminded constantly not to let that happen, with timelines demonstrated, process objectives outlined and so on. You can ask to check that work the following day, have due dates for each goal, yet somehow this still is not enough. I’m not sure if this is a cultural aspect of their learning strategies, or something that they have learnt elsewhere.

A good number have tutors, who are expected to do the extra work given to a student and help with assignments etc. Tutors are often teachers themselves from other schools and willingly, it appears, do the set tasks given to a student. One would think that as teachers they would decline but this is not so. This is a norm that we also need to change. Problems occur when a student uses a tutor. For instance, how does the tutor know and understand the fundamentals of MYP if they are not involved in it? How can a tutor seek to advise a student on doing homework or an assessment if they do not understand the criteria? The students in our school are encouraged to act alone, to seek what they require through their own work. A tutor works from a completely opposite direction, by attending to the students requirements they obviate the student from any sense of responsibility.

Study is another aspect that we are still seeking to change, students will not admit to spending much time on the books at home, and there is clearly little differentiation between study and homework. However, this is not confined to the student’s understandings; teachers as well have at times demonstrated a lack of understanding of what each is about. Thus, a clear objective of any teacher in this system, and certainly one of mine, is to focus on ensuring my students do learn how to study, and plan what they are going to study over a term rather than the few days before an assessment.

On the other hand, students are demanding in ensuring their final score is a good one. They want the best possible score for an assessment and will often sit down with a teacher, myself included, to work through what is required, show drafts, and find out later once handed back what they need to improve in order to get a better score. Their attention to the scores is closely focused, and again, we need to shift them away from this paradigm into one where the process is seen as just as important. I do this by asking for notes, drafts, plans and so on. At first they are horrified by this, seeing this as extra work, not as something that should occur naturally as part of the process to an assessment. Yet by making this an integral part of the criteria, they soon find that they have to follow steps, and by doing so, improve their work.

Our students do not seem to see the real value in academia (but then again, do students anywhere?); they do not profess a love for literature or a keenness for science or a passion for economics. All is conducted as if they have to do it, for their parent’s sake, and when it’s over their real lives start. Most will go into family business or be family funded to start a business. Some will go overseas to university, and of these, 60% will study business. Surabayan teenagers live in a Chinese Indonesian world of business; they live it and breathe it from a young age. A parents business is more important than the child it seems at times. A case in point, at a recent open day for prospective parents, one father sent a factory worker and company driver to check out the school and report back. The father was too busy too attend.

However, some may say that at least he did send someone, most would not even show up. In primary at least, and to an extent in secondary, the school is starting to make strong gains in this area, with a recent PYP student led conference boasting a very high number of fathers attending. The high school is also stating to show greater numbers of parents attending parent teacher conferences, yet it is still not as high as one would wish. Student exhibitions are still down in attendance, two recent performances by students had only a couple of dozen parents attend. When one asks students if their parents will make it, out of a class of 20, maybe 2 or 3 will raise their hands, they seem to understand that parents do not view such things as overly important. It would seem that for some parents, it is enough to ensure their child goes to a good school and once that is done, the rest is left up to the children.

Overall, the students here are easy and fun to teach. Once a teacher gets past the reserved exterior students display for any new comer, they relax and can be full of life and ideas.


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