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Pilots at fault in two Vietjet landing incidents: aviation authority

Friday, December 28, 2018, 16:01 GMT+7
Pilots at fault in two Vietjet landing incidents: aviation authority
The Vietjet plane involved in a wrong-runway landing is seen at Cam Ranh International Airport on December 25, 2019. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Piloting errors are to blame in each of the two headline-grabbing landing scandals involving low-cost Vietnamese carrier Vietjet over the past two months, the country’s aviation watchdog announced on Thursday.

A Vietjet plane landed on an under-construction runway at Cam Ranh Airport in south-central Vietnam on Tuesday, while the front landing gear on a different Vietjet aircraft fell off moments before it landed at Buon Ma Thuot Airport in the Central Highlands in late November.

In all, Vietjet chalked up five technical and two human errors during the final quarter of 2018, the Ministry of Transport recapped at a meeting on Thursday morning.

The event was held to announce the preliminary findings of a probe into the two said incidents, both of which the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) says were caused by piloting errors.

Speaking at the meeting, CAAV director Dinh Viet Thang provided a detail analysis of each incident.

The decision by the pilot of a Ho Chi Minh City-bound Vietjet flight from Cam Ranh Airport to land on an under-construction runway on Tuesday, according to Thang, was prompted by an alert that the plane’s front landing gear was losing hydraulic pressure.

Upon receiving the alert, the aircraft’s pilots decided to turn around just 20 minutes after taking off from Cam Ranh.

The Filipino captain, with 11,000 flying hours under his belt, kept a watch on the state of the landing gear while his Vietnamese co-pilot managed the deployment of the landing gear, Thang said. 

Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The speaks at a meeting on December 27, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The (left) at a meeting on December 27, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Thang went on to explain that the captain lost focus during the landing and missed the targeted runway.

The air traffic controller managing the landing from the tower saw the mistake and immediately instructed the pilots to land on the correct runway, but instead they chose to land on a separate, under-construction runway.

As for the the Vietjet flight that arrived at Buon Ma Thuot Airport, located in the namesake city, from Ho Chi Minh City on November 30, Thang shared that the pilots were at fault for their decision to deactivate the autopilot system too early.

The Airbus A321 eventually landed at Buon Ma Thuot with its nose wheel touching the ground first while it should have been the rear wheel to do so as per the aircraft’s design, according to Thang.

“Though they didn’t break any procedural guidelines, pilots are expected not to deactivate the autopilot system too early under normal technical conditions,” Thang said.

Thang also explained that the pilots could have attempted to avoid the shaking landing, sharing that it would have “been possible to pull the landing gear up and abort the landing, but the flight team could not handle that,” the director added.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The called out Vietjet for the spate of incidents its aircraft have been involved in over the past few days and the widespread public concern it caused.

Dozens of people have texted and called the Ministry of Transport to share their worries over the state of flight safety in Vietnam, the minister said.

Besides his remarks at the meeting, The signed a directive, criticizing Vietjet for “letting several incidents threaten flight safety.”

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Bao Anh / Tuoi Tre News

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