Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thai airline in fatal crash faces criminal charges

A budget airline that operated a jet which crashed in Thailand last year killing 90 people, including one Australian, has been grounded and will face criminal charges, the Department of Civil Aviation head said.

An investigation by the department found that Thai operator One-Two-Go had breached safety regulations by having sub-standard quality checks and submitting fake documents to the Government regulator.

"The company's lack of quality assurance systems could have affected the safety of its air transportation," Chaisak Angkasuwan, director general of the Department of Civil Aviation, told reporters.

"Today, we are going to send the order to the company, and in the next two weeks we expect to report to the police to press charges against the company and its pilots," he added.

He accused the company of poor management, including sharing pilots with its sister airline Orient Thai and providing pilot training for its McDonnell Douglas fleet without permission from the aviation department.

All flights of One-Two-Go's McDonnell Douglas aircraft will have to cease from Tuesday for 30 days, Mr Chaisak said.

The operator on Saturday announced that it was suspending its operations for eight weeks, citing financial restructuring because of soaring oil prices.

An official from One-Two-Go refused to comment on the new report, saying they would have to first study its findings.

The investigation followed the September crash in bad weather on the southern Thai tourist island Phuket.

A One-Two-Go MD-80 plane skidded off the runway into an embankment and broke up in flames, killing Thai citizens and foreign visitors.

Thailand's transport ministry in October said a dangerous weather condition known as wind shear was a major cause of the crash, but said it was not ruling out human error as another factor.

- AFP

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