Cablegate: Indonesia - Notification of Faa Downgrade


DE RUEHJA #0990/01 0950859
P 050859Z APR 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. This is an action request - see para 9

2. (SBU) Summary. On April 4, The Charge informed Minister of
Transportation M. Hatta Rajasa of the Federal Aviation
Administration's (FAA) decision to downgrade Indonesia's safety
oversight category to Category Two (reftel). Rajasa made few
comments about the FAA decision, noting only that the last few
months had been "the most difficult in my life" and asking about the
economic impact of the downgrade. After further consultations on
April 5, Director for Aviation Safety Iing Iskandar agreed to
request within the next two weeks a FAA technical review and
assistance in developing an action plan. Iskandar also confirmed
plans for himself and Director General for Civil Aviation Budhi
Suyitno to visit Washington D.C. and Seattle in May. In the April 4
meeting, the Charge also informed Rajasa that the Transportation
Security Administration's (TSA) March 26-April 2 assessment of the
Bali Airport had gone well. Suyitno replied that the DGCA intends
to elevate security from under the safety directorate and promote it
to a director level position, a step the TSA has encouraged for some
time. End Summary.

3. (SBU) The Charge called on Transportation Minister M. Hatta
Rajasa on April 5 to inform Rajasa of the FAA's decision to
immediately downgrade Indonesia's safety oversight category to
Category Two. At the conclusion of the meeting, we presented the
letter in para 16 of reftel to Director General for Civil Aviation
Budhi Suyitno. The Charge was accompanied by Mary Walsh, FAA
Representative for Southeast Asia, Mel Cintron, Manager of the FAA's
International Flight Standards Program, and Economic Officers.

FAA Category Two Downgrade

4. (SBU) The Charge expressed U.S. condolences on the tragic loss of
life in the recent air crash. He also commended the Ministry on its
recent steps including publishing airline ratings and developing a
transportation safety roadmap. He informed the Minister about the
FAA's decision to downgrade Indonesia to Category Two, emphasizing
that the FAA had no choice but to make this decision in light of
recent developments. He added that the FAA is prepared to engage
with the DGCA in order to improve Indonesia's aviation safety
system. Rajasa made few comments about the downgrade, noting only
that the last few months had been "the most difficult in my life"
and asking about the economic impact of the downgrade to Category 2.

5. (SBU) The FAA's Mary Walsh and Mel Cintron explained further the
details of the FAA's decision. Cintron explained the FAA decided to
downgrade Indonesia to Category Two based on a number of factors,
including recent air accidents, recent changes in the DGCA
structure, public comments by GOI officials, and the recent airline
ratings published by the DGCA.

6. (U) The GOI's Iskandar expressed concern as to why the FAA rated
Indonesia when there are no Indonesian carriers with flights or
code-shares to the United States. In response, Cintron clarified
that since Indonesia had prior "economic authority" due to a Garuda
Airline flight to Los Angeles in the mid 90's, as well as a current
Category one rating, Indonesia warranted reconsideration. Also,
under the USG's "no double standards" policy, the FAA has a mandate
from Congress to provide international flight safety information to
the American flying public.

7. (U) In a brief conversation after the meeting, Rajasa and Suyitno
noted they found it difficult to understand why the FAA had cited
recent personnel changes at the DGCA as well as the DGCA's new
airline ratings system, both positive steps in their minds, as
grounds for downgrading Indonesia to Category Two. They also
expressed concern on the effects of the downgrade on the Indonesian
tourism sector and Indonesia's campaign for a seat on the ICAO
council. Walsh and Cintron assured them that the downgrade to
Category Two would have no effect on the way Washington evaluates
Indonesia's ICAO candidacy.

Technical Review and Visit to Washington

8. (U) In subsequent consultations on April 6 with Iskandar and
Director of Airworthiness Yurlis Hasibuan, Iskandar offered to
provide the FAA additional documents in order to avoid a downgrade
to Category Two. They noted that the FAA customarily performs
International Aviation Safety Assessment reviews prior to
downgrading countries, but had not taken this step in Indonesia's
case. In response, Walsh and Cintron emphasized the FAA decision
was final and again explained the FAA criteria and the importance of
undergoing a technical review and developing an action plan.
Iskandar agreed the DGCA would send a letter in the next two weeks
asking for an FAA technical review and assistance in developing an
action plan. Iskandar also stated that DGCA intends to visit FAA
and Boeing Seattle in May for consultations.

9. (U) Recent crashes and the FAA downgrade provide an excellent
opportunity to engage with Indonesian civil aviation authorities in
a significant way. We request the FAA respond to Indonesia's request
for technical review as promptly as possible.

Positive TSA Assessment of Bali Nugrah Rai Airport
--------------------------------------------- -----

10. (U) In the April 4 meeting, the Charge informed Rajasa about
the positive results of the recent TSA assessment of the Bali
airport, and thanked Rajasa and Suyitno for their leadership. He
noted the TSA had informed him that the airport made considerable
progress in the past year and that no significant security concerns
remain. Suyitno responded that the DGCA intends to use the Bali
airport as a benchmark for other airports in the system. He
admitted there is a lack of "safety culture" at most airports and
that the DGCA is committed to improving security at all of
Indonesia's airports, starting with the country's major
international gateways. Suyitno added the DGCA also intends to
create a stand-alone Directorate for Aviation Security, a step the
TSA has long encouraged the DGCA to take. At present, the aviation

security is handled by a unit in the sub-directorate of security
under the Director of Safety.


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