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A Nok Air plane stranded in slushy mud at Chiang Rai’s Mae Fah Luang Airport was successfully tugged and hoisted back onto the runway at 4am on Thursday.
Last Saturday the plane skidded off the runway as it landed in heavy rain. The Boeing 737-800 was carrying 164 passengers and six crew from Don Mueang. Luckily no one was injured in the incident.
Previously, the airport had announced the runway would reopen for flights only on Saturday but Thursday’s successful operation means this could be earlier.
The airport is scheduled to hold a press conference at 1.30pm on Thursday.
Nok Air CEO Wutthiphum Jurangkool told news agency Thansettakij that the pilot had “landed the plane successfully without any casualties”.
The Boeing’s tyres got stuck in mud after it slid off the runway.
The pilots and crew followed service protocols by contacting related organisations for help and a rescue team arrived within two minutes, Wutthiphum said.
The pilot decided to turn off the engines and fuel system to prevent fire and leakage. The captain also decided to keep passengers inside the aircraft as it was raining heavily and there was a thunderstorm. Moreover, the area was dark without any spotlights, Wutthiphum explained.
Passengers were evacuated by vans and ambulances after around an hour. The plane’s battery died out so some passengers might have felt hot and could not breathe during the evacuation process, the CEO said.
Once the rain weakened to a drizzle, some passengers decided to wait outside the plane as others were transported to the airport terminal by Thai Airways’ buses, Wutthiphum said.
Passengers were forbidden from walking to the building as they risked being hit by lightning, he went on to explain.
The pilot and crew tried to communicate to passengers in Thai and English to keep them from panicking.
Wutthiphum admitted that the passengers did not receive enough food and water after they were evacuated to the airport building because shops there had closed.
Nok Air booked 87 rooms in three hotels for the passengers while some who went home also received compensation, according to Wutthiphum.
As for passengers’ baggage, he said it was an investigation committee that had ordered the airline not to transport the baggage to the terminal because they wanted to conduct a probe first.
According to Thansettakij, several organisations – such as the Airport Department, Chiang Rai airport, Thai Airways, PTT, Nok Air, the Army and the Air Force – helped to pull the plane back onto the runway.
However, a Thai Airways recovery team provided the main help as the company has licensed engineers, so Nok Air had to rely on the team to recover the plane before an insurance claim is filed, said a source.
PTT staff travelled from U-tapao Airport to transfer leftover fuel in the plane, while Thai Airways engineers arrived at the scene on Monday evening after getting equipment from Don Mueang International Airport and Suvarnabhumi Airport.
The team reportedly used air cushions to lift the plane and inspect it for damage before planning the recovery.
Meanwhile, Thanawong Group teamed up with Chiang Rai soldiers and Chiang Rai airport staff to spring the plane’s tyres loose from the soil.
According to an investigation, the nose gear was broken so a trailer truck was used to hold it up. The staff used smashed rocks to cover the slushy area under the plane to make a path. The recovery operation was halted several times amid heavy rain.
On Tuesday, the plane was pulled out of the soil successfully but the left main landing gear collapsed, so extra equipment had to be brought in.
On Wednesday, the Disabled Aircraft Removal team successfully moved the plane back onto the runway with the help of slings and a crane. The team expects to tow the plane to a landing area on Thursday night.
Published : August 04, 2022
By : THE NATION