Home' Asian Aviation : AAV March 2011. Contents Investigations are continuing into the 10
January incident at Kuching International
Airport (KIA), Malaysia, when an AirAsia A320
departed the runway on landing, injuring four
Unofficial information now suggests visibility
may have been below accepted minima at the
time. The aircraft, operating as flight number
AK5218 from Kuala Lumpur, was carrying
124 passengers and landed in heavy rain at
10.02pm local time.
According to an air traffic controller at KIA,
the ground weather report released at 10pm
on the day of the accident puts visibility at the
airport at 800m, or 400m short of the required
"Weather conditions could not have
changed drastically within two minutes," the
controller says. "It is surprising that the aircraft
did not have sufficient runway length to roll
and turn into the taxiway despite the long
The runway at the airport was extended by
1,280ft to 3,780ft in 2009, to accommodate
aircraft up to the size of the Airbus A380, the
world's largest jetliner.
"ATC gives weather report to the pilots,
but the decision whether to land or divert
to another airport is at the discretion of the
pilots," the controller adds.
The aircraft veered off the runway to
the right and came to rest on soft ground
with a collapsed nose wheel and damage
to the cowling of both engines. The airport
was closed for 23 hours as rain hampered
the removal of the aircraft, resulting in the
cancellation of 30 domestic and international
Minister of Transport Kong Cho Ha says
'heavy rain caused the aircraft to skid',
declining to comment further.
A Balai Ringan district assemblyman in the
state of Sarawak, Snowdan Lawan, who was
aboard the flight, said passengers were left
out in the cold for more than an hour after
evacuating the aircraft, before Malaysian air
force buses arrived to ferry them to the airport
"The airline staff at the site seemed lost as
to what had to be done, despite seeing the
elderly and children shivering in the rain,"
Several other passengers have made similar
AirAsia officials in Kuala Lumpur declined
comment. The airline and the Department of
Civil Aviation are still investigating the cause of
the accident. -- William Dennis
Indonesia's Mandala Airlines, which suspended
operations in January citing financial problems,
has returned five of its aircraft -- three Airbus
A320s and two A319s -- to their European
Even so, the carrier's President and Director
Diono Nurjadin remains confident that the
carrier will find new investors within the time
period allowed by law.
The Jakarta-based company blamed cutthroat
competition in the low-cost segment of
the Indonesian aviation market and rising
operating costs for its problems. Spiralling
debt prompted the airline's board to request a
restructuring exercise that would pave the way
for new investors.
Local aviation laws require the airline to
complete its restructuring within 45 days --
although it may extend that period for as
much as another 135 days, in 45-day blocks--
or face the possibility of having its air operating
certificate (AOC) revoked.
Mandala has outstanding debt of 800 billion
rupiah (US$94.12 million) with local and
The airline's network covered 17 domestic
destinations and two international routes --
Jakarta-Singapore and Balikpapan-Singapore.
It was one of the four Indonesian carriers
removed from the European Commission's
airline safety blacklist in July 2010.
The Ministry of Transport in Jakarta has
ordered the airline to give full refunds to
passengers who purchased tickets for flights
within 42 days of the suspension of operations.
Despite everything, Diono remains optimistic.
"We are not finished yet but we will come
back stronger as there is huge demand for air
travel in Indonesia," he says. The airline chief
adds that he is confident of securing new
investors but declines to elaborate.
The airline had ambitious plans for a major
expansion to tap the growing low-fare market
in South-East Asia and Australia. It placed
an order for 30 A320s in January 2009 with
deliveries scheduled to commence in March.
Indonesia's domestic aviation market is
now being served by 34 airlines in fierce
competition. Lion Air, with a network of
62 destinations in the domestic market has
overshadowed main rivals Garuda Indonesia,
Merpati Nusantara Airlines and Indonesia
AirAsia. Lion Air now has 45 percent market
share. -- William Dennis
Grounded Mandala Airlines returns five aircraft to lessors
Poor visibility highlighted in AirAsia Kuching landing incident
Heavy rain hampered the removal of the aircraft, causing a 23-hour shutdown of the airport.
12 AsianAviation | MARCH 2011
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