Saturday, September 22, 2007

Second Thai One-Two-Go plane has crash landing

Pilot sent 'mayday' to tower

By Achadtaya Chuenniran and Thai News Agency

The chief pilot of the ill-fated One-Two-Go airliner sent a distress signal to the control tower just before it crash-landed last Sunday, said Pornchai Ua-aree, director of Phuket international airport.

The pilot used a ''mayday'' signal to ask for help just before the plane veered off the runway and crashed into an earth embankment.

Meanwhile, another One-Two-Go flight from Bangkok to Hat Yai yesterday had a minor crash landing, but the pilot managed to control the aircraft.

One of the plane's lights and air-conditioning control panels fell on top of a passenger and oxygen masks also dropped down, airport officials said.

One passenger suffered bruising.

The incident took place less than a week after 89 passengers were killed and 41 injured when One-Two-Go flight OG269 from Bangkok veered off the runway and crashed at Phuket airport.

Sqn-Ldr Pornchai, who briefed a delegation from the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) transport committee about last week's crash, said airport controllers had warned the pilot about gusting winds and rain.

He said the controllers received information [from the pilot] that as the aircraft was about to touch down, its wheels were out, but they did not touch the ground.

He cited the taped conversation between the air traffic controllers and the pilot.

''The chief pilot shouted 'mayday' repeatedly to ask for help until he lost contact with the control tower,'' Sqn-Ldr Pornchai said.

The NLA committee, led by Bannawit Kengrien, yesterday travelled to Phuket to compile information about the crash and visit the injured at Bangkok Phuket hospital.

On long-term measures to cope with emergencies at the airport, he said the airport needed better quality foam to extinguish fires. The foam used to douse the fire last week was not good enough to put the fire out completely, Sqn-Ldr Pornchai said.

He also suggested large, better-equipped hospitals be built near Phuket airport.

Currently, the closest hospital is Thalang hospital, a small hospital that cannot serve many emergency patients, he said, adding the large hospitals are situated far away from the airport.

He said another 50 CCTV cameras would be installed in and around the airport, in addition to the 50 cameras already in place.

The NLA panel also called on the airport to make sure its equipment is well maintained and staff properly trained, he said.

Adm Bannawit said improvements must be made to the airport's rescue capability.

He said the airport still lacked an efficient rescue team and there were no rescue helicopters available.

He said he would pass on complaints about shortcomings in airport rescue work to various agencies.

Adm Bannawit expected all airports under the supervision of the Airports of Thailand to finish installing security cameras by the end of the month.

As for the data recorders which were sent to the United States, he said, the information on the cause of the crash should be made available in a month.

Udom Tantiprasongchai, president of Orient Thai Airlines, operator of the One-Two-Go budget airline, said he had received a report on yesterday's incident which said the pilot had to make a crash landing on the runway to ensure the wheels firmly touched down.

He said it was ''a normal situation'' which happened occasionally and did not suggest the plane was of sub-standard quality. He said officials of the Civil Aviation Department investigated the cause of the accident and had found nothing wrong with the plane.

He said the department had allowed the plane to get back into service.

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