Saturday, November 18, 2006

21 hurt as Thai Airways nearly collides with Korean jetliner

Total silence from the Thais on this. Accountability? Just last year, another Thailand based carrier, Phuket Air, was banned from landing at European airports due to longstanding failure to correct a variety of serious safety issues. It was Phuket Air which famously criticized passengers after an incident in which takeoff was aborted due to panic over copious amounts of aviation fuel spilling from the wing of one of their aircraft.

from The Nation:

21 hurt in plane's near-miss over SKorea

A THAI aircraft was suspected of flying on the same altitude of a Taiwanese plane and nearly caused collision.

SEOUL - Twenty-one people aboard a Taiwanese plane were injured Thursday when it was forced to change course to avoid another aircraft while approaching South Korea's Jeju island, airline officials said.

Nineteen of them needed hospital treatment and three are still in hospital including one with a brain haemorrhage, medical staff said.

The accident happened when a Boeing 757 operated by the Far Eastern Air Transport Corporation was approaching the southern resort island.

Airline spokesman Chang You-peng said the plane was told by flight controllers to reduce altitude from 35,000 feet to 34,000 feet.

But an alarm designed to avoid airborne collisions went off, prompting the pilots to make an emergency descent for around 10 seconds, Chang told AFP in Taipei.

"The pilots said they suspected it was a Thai jetliner flying nearby on the same altitude," he added, praising their "correct and proper" handling of the incident.

The pilots had no time to warn passengers of the sudden descent, Chang said, adding that 16 passengers and five crew were injured out of 129 passengers and eight crew members on board.

Medical officials in Jeju said two people suffered fractured ribs and one had a brain haemorrhage.,

Chang said around half the passengers were en route to Shanghai and were transiting in South Korea.

A four-member team from South Korea's transport ministry was sent to Jeju to investigate.

"An investigation will be carried out to determine the cause of the accident by analyzing the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder of the aircraft and interviewing the pilots, flight attendants and passengers," said ministry official Byeon Soon-Cheol.

"We don't know yet what caused the airplane to lose height so suddenly."

An official at Incheon Air Traffic Centre said the flight lost height some 50-60 miles (31-37 miles) south of Jeju.

"It is true that a Thai Airways aircraft was flying nearby," said the official, adding that it was bound for Bangkok after taking off from Incheon west of Seoul.

Agence France-Presse