International pilots' association criticize Captain Marwoto Komar's arrest

By Anastasia Tomazhenkova: Indonesian authorities arrested the pilot of a Garuda airliner that crashed in March killing 21 people. An international pilots' association denounced this act, claiming further investigation was needed.

The pilot of a Garuda airliner Captain Marwoto Komar was arrested Monday on manslaughter charges. His Garuda Boeing 737-400 crashed March 7 on landing at Yogyakarta airport, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Jakarta.

The International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations claimed it was "saddened" to learn of Komar's arrest.

Indonesian investigators have reported Komar ignored repeated warnings that he was approaching the runway at almost double the normal landing speed.

Investigators say Komar made a steep approach and hit the runway at 254 mph - 100 mph faster than the safe touchdown speed. The plane skidded off the runway and plowed into a rice paddy before bursting into flames.

The pilot, co-pilot and 117 others survived the crash, many with severe burns. Among the dead and injured were Australian diplomats, police, military personnel and journalists who were following a visit by Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer to the city in central Java.

If found guilty on manslaughter charges, Komar could face up to five years in jail.

The London-based pilots' group said additional investigations were needed to establish the reasons behind the crash, and that a criminal case against Komar would prevent them from finding out what really went wrong.

"The Federation expects that Capt. Komar will be released ... as he has agreed to fully cooperate with the police investigation and clearly poses no danger to society. He remains a professional who was involved in an unfortunate tragedy," the group said.

Last year, the European Union banned all 51 airlines certified in Indonesia from flying to the EU due to safety concerns. The U.S. Federal Aviation Authority also downgraded the country's rating to its lowest category.

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