Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Flying High

I don't know about you, but I always like to think that the person piloting the aircraft I am travelling in is in full control or his or her senses. Snorting cocaine in the cockpit would not fill me with confidence about the chances of reaching my destination.

So it is somewhat alarming to read today that a third Indonesian pilot has been prosecuted for ingesting crystal methamphetamine. Putting the 'P' into pilot is a worrying state of affairs, in a country not renowned for its aviation safety record.

The airline in question is Lion Air whose motto just happens to be "We make you fly", although when they coined it, they would not have anticipated their pilots taking this slogan quite so literally, as is the case here.

Media reports that a month earlier, another Lion Air pilot had been arrested with an undisclosed amount of crystal meth in a karaoke bar in South Sulawesi, while two Lion Air co-pilots were arrested for possession of crystal meth and ecstasy last September.

In Indonesia the scourge that is crystal meth is known as "shabu-shabu".  Perhaps given the state of the airline industry there it should be known as "shabby, shabby".

Such was the state of civil aviation in the country that in 2007 when we were based in Singapore all of its airlines were banned by the European Union authorities and, as I worked for the British Council at the time, we were forbidden to use them.

Since then the ban has been gradually lifted but there are still a number of smaller operations that are clearly 'cowboy' outfits. One could always use alternative transport such as ferries but these tend to sink due to overcrowding.
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