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Downdraft Cited as Factor in Deadly Indonesian Crash


The pilot of an Indonesian plane that crashed-landed killing 21 people has told investigators that there was a sudden downdraft as he was landing his plane.

Aviation experts say strong downdrafts can cause a plane to suddenly drop as it approaches a runway. They say it can also make the plane approach the landing strip too fast.

Chief investigator Mardjono Siswo Suwarno told reporters on Thursday that the front wheels of the jet snapped off when it crash-landed and burned. The plane's right wing fuel tank was punctured during the landing, sparking a fire that ignited the plane.

The jet's flight data recorders or black boxes arrived in Australia Friday. Data recovered from the recorders will help investigators understand why the jet overshot the runway on Wednesday.

This week's crash marks Indonesia's third aviation accident since January 1. The incidents have raised questions about the country's aircraft maintenance and safety regulations. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered an investigation.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.