A Citilink pilot has been fired after a video went viral on YouTube showing him stumbling through airport security on Wednesday morning prior to attempting to take 154 passengers from Surabaya to the Capital. The common suspicion is that he showed up drunk, which corresponds with earlier suspicions.
Citilink is a low-cost Indonesian airline that often sacrifices certain luxuries in favor of keeping the price of passage low. The reasons for former Captain Tekad Purna’s behavior prior to the flight are unknown.
It’s unknown if Purna was drunk or has been repeatedly drunk as reports have suggested. According to the video, he was allegedly out of control, stumbling through the metal detectors and dropping items several times. The stumbling indicates a lack of control over his sense of balance, a common deterrent of alcohol. This is why police in the United States often have motorists they suspect of being drunk attempt to walk in a straight line.
Drunk driving can cost the lives of not only the driver but also the passengers and anyone the driver hits along the way. Even though flying is considered the safest form of travel for the reduction of traffic, a plane is practically a bullet being held aloft via thrusters and wing flaps. Add alcohol or other sedatives to the equation and it’s a formula for a much greater disaster.
Citilink is a low-cost subsidiary of Garuda Indonesia, who have already been under fire for Purna’s – and others’ – past antics. In some cases, the passengers have been known to see the pilot allegedly drunk. This time, they heard him speaking incoherently after seeing him stumble into the cockpit and decided to depart the flight before take-off.
This has reportedly happened before, according to USA Today, and after having him tested, Citilink announced that no drugs or alcohol had been found in his system in previous incidents.
The repeated actions could raise the question of why airport security hadn’t stopped Purna before, and much of the blame is being aimed at Citilink’s parent corporation. Even the incident caught on video showed security personnel appearing to shrug off what appeared to be intoxicated behavior. The pilot had even made it into the cockpit, reports the Jakarta Post, before he was removed and replaced with another pilot this last time.
Purna has since been suspended, with a full medical inspection pending, and two top authorities at Citilink have announced their resignation over the incidents, taking full responsibility. The president of corporate communications, Benny S. Butarbutar, said that president director Albert Burhan and operational director Hadinoto Soedigno decided to step down after a press conference following the recorded incident, and the resignations are pending approval by the board of commissioners and Garuda Indonesia.
Former Captain Purna has undergone medical examinations in two separate clinics, and the results will be issued in a timely fashion. If the 32-year-old former captain is proven to have been under the influence before endangering the lives of 154 passengers, he will have his license revoked.
Again, it is unknown why the airport security personnel enabled Purna to proceed after his allegedly drunken behavior and didn’t simply call Citilink to report what they had seen. Perhaps the regulations are lenient enough to allow such behavior in Indonesia, but it seems unlikely as airline travel is the most popular form of transportation between the sprawling 17,000 islands. Where air traffic is the rule, regulations would likely be more strict for pilots.
Safety concerns following the video going viral could lead to the tightening of those restrictions.
[Feature Image by Mike Fuchslocher/Shutterstock.com]