Jet Crashes in Thailand; Deaths Reported
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BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) "” A One-To-Go Airlines jet crashed and was engulfed in flames as it attempted to land in heavy rain at the Phuket airport in southern Thailand on Sunday, authorities said.
Maj. Gen. Deecha Butnamphet, police chief in Phuket, said on local television station TITV that "we believe that there are many people who are dead. We are taking the dead and injured out from the scene.
"The airplane is completely destroyed and inflamed," he said.
It wasn't immediately known how many people were on board, though TITV said without citing sources that 123 mostly foreign tourists were the passengers, which was traveling from Bangkok to Phuket, a popular resort area for tourists.
TITV reported 60 dead, but Chaisak Angsuwan, director general of the Air Transport Authority of Thailand, could not confirm that.
Angsuwan told The Associated Press by telephone he believes "there are people dead, but the number is still unclear."
Earlier, Angsuwan had told TITV that there was heavy rain when One-To-Go airlines flight OG269 from Bangkok to Phuket attempted to make a landing. One-To-Go, a budget airline, is owned Orient Thai Airways.
"The visibility was poor as the pilot attempted to land. He decided to make a go-around but the plane lost balance and crashed. It was torn into two parts," he said.
At Least 88 Killed as Plane Crashes in Thailand
Rescue crews at the site of the plane crash in Phuket, Thailand.
By THOMAS FULLER
Published: September 17, 2007
BANGKOK, Sept. 16 "” A low-fare airline carrying many foreign tourists crashed in heavy rain, broke into pieces and burst into flame on Thailand's resort island of Phuket on Sunday, killing at least 88 of the 130 passengers and crew on board.
The New York Times
Many foreign tourists were on the plane bound for Phuket.
More bodies were expected to be retrieved from the smoldering wreckage of the plane, a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 that was Flight OG 269 of One-Two-GO, an airline based in Bangkok, officials said.
The exact cause of the crash was unclear late Sunday, but witnesses said the plane slid off the runway soon after touching down in heavy wind and rain.
"The plane looked like it was going to land," Nong Khawnoun, a survivor of the crash, told the Thai television station Channel 9. "It felt like the wheels almost touched the ground, but we started going up again. Then we slid and hit the dirt embankment."
The flight, which left Don Muang airport in Bangkok at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, had two pilots and five other crew members on board, in addition to 123 passengers, 79 of them foreigners and 44 Thai.
Kongkiat Katepetch, a doctor at Krung Thep Hospital in Phuket, said he had admitted 29 injured passengers, including five in serious condition. The injured people included Thai passengers as well as foreigners.
Chowalet Jitjamnong, another survivor of the crash, said he had heard no explosion. "The plane slid and then crashed," Mr. Chowalet said on the Thai television channel TITV. "It was dark and there was a lot of smoke." He added, "After I got out of the plane I saw fire."
Established in 2000, One-Two-GO is one of many low-fare airlines in Southeast Asia that have made travel in the region more affordable. But a series of accidents involving those carriers has raised questions about their maintenance procedures and overall safety.
The South Korean Ministry of Construction and Transportation issued a warning in March 2006 to the international arm of One-Two-GO, called Orient Thai, and to two other low-fare carriers because of "frequent delays and substandard safety measures," The Korea Times reported.
The ministry said that Orient Thai, which operates flights from Inchon, South Korea, to Bangkok and Phuket, had not updated its safety and operational regulation manuals and that fire extinguishers and oxygen tanks were not in working condition. "We ordered the carriers to improve the detected items," The Korea Times quoted an official as saying.
In October 2004, a Boeing 747-200 operated by Orient Thai came within 660 feet of the Tokyo Tower while making its final approach to Haneda Airport, a Japanese newspaper, The Mainichi Shimbun, reported.
Pornnapa Wongakanit contributed reporting.
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Phuket plane crash pilot warned of wind danger September 18, 2007 10:02am
Pilot warned of wind shear but landed anyway
Pilot, co-pilot among those killed in crash
Tears and shock as plane crashes in Phuket
THE pilot of the Thai airliner that crashed on the resort island of Phuket was warned of a possibly dangerous wind conditions at the airport but decided to land anyway, an aviation official has said.
The pilot and co-pilot were among the 89 people killed in the One-Two-Go crash, which apparently took place during an aborted landing attempt. Gold Coast father of four Brian Mullery was also killed.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has said it is now almost certain there were no other Australians killed in the tragedy. Perth expatriate Robert Borland was among those who survived and will return to Australia after undergoing surgery for his injuries.
A transcript of the conversation between the pilot and the control tower has revealed ground officials told the pilot that he was heading for a wind shear - a sudden change in either wind speed or direction that can send planes out of control.
"The last word the pilot said was 'landing'," Thailand's air transport safety chief was quoted as saying on national television by the Associated Press.
However an aviation expert has said it is possible the pilot was trying to abort the landing because he could not see the runway, but the plane was already too low.
"It was hit by wind shear or strong winds and he didn't have time to react," aviation writer Tom Ballantyne told AP, adding the real question might be whether the ground officials should have allowed any attempt at landing in such conditions.
The airline's president was earlier quoted as saying wind shear could have caused the crash, although heavy rain on Phuket at the time may also have contributed.
But Thailand's Trransport Minister has said it is too early to know for sure.
"The officials have found the black boxes and will send them for analysis to the United States," he said. "Hopefully, we will learn in a few weeks the cause of the accident."
This morning it was reported that South Korean authorities raised concerns about One-Two-Go's parent company, Orient Thai Airlines, as recently as last year.
Worries about the Thai carrier have been aired periodically as far back as 1997, when it was accused by the Thai Aviation Department of failing to keep clear flight records and conduct six-monthly emergency training sessions for its pilots.
In the most recent case, Orient Thai was one of three low-cost carriers from Thailand singled out by the South Korean Ministry of Construction and Transport in March last year for their frequent delays and sub-standard safety measures.
The ministry found 18 safety violations across the three carriers, including a failure by Orient Thai to update safety and operational regulation manuals. Safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers and oxygen tanks, were also not functioning correctly.
Orient Thai came under the scrutiny of Japanese aviation officials after a 2004 incident in which one of its jumbo jets passed within 200m of the Tokyo Tower after it veered off course on approach to Haneda airport.
The plane was supposed to come in over Tokyo Bay but instead crossed over Tokyo Station and the Nihombashi district, flying at an altitude of 540m.
Sunday's tragedy is Thailand's deadliest aviation accident since December 1998, when 101 people were killed after a Thai Airways plane crashed on landing near another southern resort.
It is likely to throw the spotlight once more on Asia's rapidly growing low-cost carriers and on Thailand's regulatory agencies.
I was reading through the Wikipedia entry when I came upon this:
The wind shear detection system was solar-powered and therefore, 3 out of the 6 wind shear sensors ran out of power during the overcast weather.
So you have a system that is designed to detect wind shear, which is created almost always in overcast conditions, running on solar power? That'd be like me getting solar powered headlights on my car.
"Those Who Don't Learn From The Past Are Doomed To Repeat It."
Murray, that's outrageous. What could they be thinking?
Well, it is Wikipedia, so maybe it's not true but if it is it boggles the mind.
"Those Who Don't Learn From The Past Are Doomed To Repeat It."
It would be more accurate to say a solar power/battery system. There's got to be something to run the detectors at night! I assume the system is designed so that the solar panels charge the batteries during the daylight hours. If you go long enough with diminished sunlight, or the solar panels are dirty, or if the batteries are old and don't hold a charge as well as they used to, you can run out of power.
"They shall mount up with wings, as eagles." Isaiah 40:31
The USA Today article confirms that there are solar powered wind shear sensors that ran out of battery power http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-09-18-4211458898_x.htm
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