The Northern Air Traffic Management Company has suspended two leaders and three employees of an air traffic control station in central Vietnam for causing a loss of contact of about four minutes with a Jetstar Pacific plane last week.
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The three staff members have been suspended infinitely while the head and deputy head of the station were given a 15-day suspension after causing the incident that seriously threatened the safety of the flight, the company said.
The suspensions were made after the air control station in the central city of Vinh caused a loss of contact with a Jetstar Pacific aircraft for four minutes, causing the plane to fly two rounds above the airport before finally landing safely at Vinh airport on the evening of July 23. At that time, the plane approached the airport but could not land as it was unable to contact the local air traffic control station, Dinh Viet Thang, deputy head of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV), said. The pilot had to fly the plane two rounds above the airport while waiting for the station to recover communication, and eventually landed 10 minutes later than scheduled, causing passengers on board to worry, the official said. Investigators have confirmed that the loss of contact was due to the fault of the air traffic controllers, Thang said. “After checking the recording in the pilot’s cabin and the air traffic control station, investigators concluded that an air traffic controller had mistakenly pressed a button that cut the communication between the station and the plane, leading to an interruption in flight control,” said Lai Xuan Thanh, head of the CAAV. “Therefore, when the station released an instruction for landing, the pilot could not receive it,” Thanh explained. The CAAV said it has sent one air traffic officer and four air traffic controllers from Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi to the station as reinforcement after the suspensions.
“We ranked this incident at level D, implying there were incidents that affected the safety of the flight,” Thanh said. Another incident occurred on June 27 this year when the air traffic control station at Da Nang International Airport in central Da Nang City issued incorrect flight instructions, causing a near collision of a Vietnam Airlines plane and a Jetstar Pacific aircraft, the CAAV said.