A serious accident involving a NOK Air flight from Bangkok DMK happened this weekend as the plane slid off the runway while landing at Chiang Rai in heavy rain last Saturday night and the airport has been closed for traffic since then.
Thankfully nobody was injured during this incident and authorities are currently investigating the matter though the airport will remain closed until further notice pending further directives.
The scenes from Chiang Rai look pretty scary and it’s a miracle that nobody got hurt here as the images suggest the plane experienced some pretty rough moments, to say the least.
As the Bangkok Post reports the incident happened on Saturday but authorities have yet to reopen the airport in Chiang Rai.
According to an announcement issued by the airline on Saturday, Nok Air Flight DD108 (Don Mueang – Chiang Rai) with 164 passengers and six crew members on board departed from Don Mueang airport at 8.03pm and arrived at Mae Fah Luang airport at 9.06pm.
While landing, the aircraft slid off the runway because of the heavy rain but the pilots managed to safely bring the aircraft to a halt. All of the passengers and crew members were safely moved to the passenger building. Nobody was injured.
An investigation was underway into the incident.
Nok Air said on Sunday that all flights to Chiang Rai were cancelled.
The Mae Fah Luang airport also said the runway would be closed on Sunday between 6am and 10pm due to the incident. It later extended the closure until Wednesday in order to complete an investigation of the incident and clear the runway area.
Passengers on flight DD108 can receive their luggage at the domestic arrival area or contact the airline, an airport official added.
Following the incident, Thai Smile, Thai Vietjet and Thai Air Asia will on Sunday transport their departing passengers by bus from Mae Fah Luang airport in Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai international airport, from where they can further travel by air to their destinations.
According to the announcement from Nok Air, the company took good care of the passengers by providing them with snacks and drinks while waiting for their luggage.
However, some of the passengers posted comments on Facebook, saying that they were not provided with any refreshments as announced by the airline.
Passengers continued to air anger at the low-cost airline about its claims it had helped passengers on the plane and others with flight bookings.
Many complained about a busy signal at its call centre 1318, saying they tried calling for hours without anyone picking up. They only heard an automated reply apologising for inconvenience as the line was busy.
A Facebook user named Warangkhana Wongchai said after the incident, crew members kept most passengers in the aircraft for about an hour, allowing fewer than 20 to leave. The remainder were eventually permitted to disembark only after complaining they found it difficult to breathe in the cabin, she said.
“After an hour, there were only two vans shuttling passengers,” she said.
“I understand that nobody expects accidents to happen. But the evacuation plan was terrible and very, very slow.”
It’s very hard to reach some low-cost airlines in Thailand by phone to begin with (including the big names) but during an accident, I imagine that very few people know what to do even if you get through.
Normally after an accident, there is an emergency protocol in place and all queries of affected passengers go through that channel and not the general reservation. Airlines should also have staff available to personally care for affected passengers who might be traumatized by the event.
NOK has yet to respond to the allegations of the evacuation being slow which is pretty evident as the passengers were kept on the plane for an hour plus after the incident. There can be reasons for that however and the pilot has been summoned to give his version of the event to the authorities as reported by the Bangkok Post.
The captain of a Nok Air aircraft that slid off the runway at Chiang Rai airport will be summoned by regulators to explain why passengers were kept on board for about an hour after the accident.
Suttipong Kongpool, director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT), said yesterday that the chief pilot of flight DD108 will be ordered to defend the decision.
“The rationale behind the decision is what the CAAT needs to hear from the captain,” Mr Suttipong told the Inside Thailand news programme.
The Don Mueang-Chiang Rai flight with 164 passengers and six crew on board slid off the runway and its undercarriage collapsed as it landed in heavy rain at Mae Fah Luang in the northern province on Saturday night. There were no injuries.
The captain turned off the engines of the 737-800 Boeing aircraft after the accident, leaving the passenger cabin in darkness and without air conditioning. The passengers were then told to stay on board until buses arranged by the airline arrived to take them to the terminal. After about an hour fewer than 20 passengers had left by van. The remaining passengers started complaining about the stuffy conditions in the cabin, the lack of fresh air causing breathing problems and the possible dangers of staying in their seats in the dark. In a video taken by a passenger in the cabin, a woman crew member was heard trying to calm down angry passengers and telling them to remain seated. “Passengers are not allowed on runways,” she said.
The passengers insisted on leaving the plane and the captain eventually permitted one of the eight emergency exit doors to be opened so they could disembark on a slide. Under international aviation protocols, all passengers must be evacuated from an aircraft within 90 seconds of a serious incident, according to the CAAT chief. But evacuation rules are also flexible, depending on the circumstances and safety of the passengers and aircraft, he said. …
I don’t want to be in either position, be it the pilots, cabin crew, or the passengers. It’s an extremely difficult call to make in that situation how to get the passengers off safely. An hour seems to be excessive though.
The only time in memory where I have heard about passengers being kept for an extensive period on board the plane after an accident, was when Qantas made the infamous emergency landing in Singapore and an engine had issued to get shut down.
Six years ago NOK Air was involved in another situation that could have ended horrifically as one of their planes nearly flew into a hospital:
And another incident from the same year:
Call me old-fashioned when I pose the question if this carrier (or its pilots) can be trusted as I like my life and doubt that I would book ever a flight for myself on NOK after these incidents. Budget airline or not, passengers have a reasonable expectation of reaching their destination alive. It’s not so much about accidents that DO happen and always will but the professional attitude (or lack thereof) displayed by the company and its employees.
It was just reported that the airport closure of Chiang Rai Airport is being extended until further notice. You can access their departure/arrival website here to follow movements (once they resume).
A NOK Air flight from Bangkok Don Mueang to Chiang Rai with 164 passengers and six crew on board slid off the runway last Saturday and the airport has been closed since.
There are no injuries among passengers and crew but conducting the investigation, removing the aircraft in a safe manner, and reopening the airport appears to be more difficult than initially estimated. The airport will be kept closed until further notice.