A flight of Thai budget carrier Nok Air almost ended in disaster yesterday when the crew commenced landing amid heavy smog and noticed in the last moment that they’re steering towards a hospital building.
The building complex was under construction without actual patients in it but no doubt the collision would have had final consequences for the aircraft with passengers & crew.
News Outlet Thai PBS (access here) reported about it.
A Nok Air plane from Don Mueang airport nearly hit an under construction hospital building while it made a landing amid heavy smog at Mae Sot airport yesterday.
The plane took off from Don Mueang at 4.10 pm for Mae Sot with scheduled landing at 5.20 pm.
But as the plane arrived, and was about to descend after the landing gear was released, the pilot noticed that the plane was missing the runway and was on the direction of the building.
He managed to ascend the plane to avoid hitting the building, causing passengers on board to go panic.
He circled his plane for 15 minutes before making a safe landing amid the relief of all frightened passengers.
A villager near the airport said he saw the plane descending as if it was about to land though the runway is still over a hundred metres away.
But the plane ascended immediately until it disappeared into the heavy smog and later returned again and landed safely, he said.
He said the smog from farm burning a few days earlier had obstructed the visibility of the runway.
I have taken Nok Air once before and I felt save, it seemed like a professional operation. Obviously the visibility at the airport is not under the influence of the airline but I would expect the airport to inform approaching aircraft of limited visibility. The article includes a video that doesn’t really play at the time of this article, have a look if you have better luck!
I wonder if the ‘farm burning’ was due a fire or if it was an intentional fire as it’s often done in South East Asia. If the latter it should be forbidden in close proximity to airports.
Thankfully nobody got injured and the flight crew noticed their path in the very last moment. It shows how important a properly equipped airport and good communication between ground and aircraft is to ensure safe operations, even if natural elements come in the way.