Two ATCs suspended over aircraft accident as probe continues
Published on: Saturday, April 20, 2019

PUTRAJAYA: Two air traffic controllers (ATC) who were on-duty at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Airport in Subang on the day that an accident occurred between an aircraft and a Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) vehicle have been suspended.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the two have been suspended pending investigations into the incident, which eventually led to the death of a MAHB technician.

When asked, he did not indicate how long the two air traffic controllers would be suspended, stressing that it was premature to determine whether the incident was due to human error, according to NST.

Loke was speaking to reporters when releasing the preliminary aircraft accident report into the incident involving the vehicle and a BD100-1A01 Challenger with the registration number 9M-TST.

Also present were Air Accident Investigation Bureau inspection head Captain Datuk Yahaya Abdul Rahman and Air Accident Inspector Colonel Saidey Ahmad.

Loke said on March 18, the aircraft, with 12 people on board, was on its final approach for Runway 15 at the airport after flying in from Jaipur.

“During landing roll, as the aircraft decelerated at the speed of 90 to 100 knots, the crew felt the aircraft hit something on the runway. Based on Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) information, the crew exclaimed ‘we hit something’ and did not suggest what had really happened to the aircraft,” the minister said.

Upon inspection of the wing of the aircraft, Loke said, the leading edge of the port wing was severely damaged with metal parts sticking out.

These parts, he said, were later determined to be from the roof of the MAHB vehicle, a Perodua Kembara.

“The Perodua Kembara was still on the runway at that time. The vehicle was being used by the MAHB technician as an escort to the runway painting vehicle.”

When the Airport Fire and Rescue Service (AFRS) team was deployed to the scene, Loke said they reported that the vehicle was badly damaged and was missing its entire roof.

“The technician/driver was found stuck in the driver’s seat of the car with his head severely injured. He was removed from the vehicle and transported to the Sime Darby Hospital nearby at 3.41am. He later died on the evening of March 19.”

Loke said, prior to the accident, the Duty Air Traffic Controller had allowed a vehicle to enter the threshold area of Runway 15 at 12.50am for lighting maintenance work and subsequently allowed two other vehicles comprising the escort vehicle and a maintenance vehicle ferrying contractors to do runway centreline painting work at 1am.

“At 2.15am, tower controller received a request to vacate the runway from the lighting maintenance vehicle through walkie talkie as their work had been completed,” he said.

Based on this last communication at 2.15am, Loke said the Duty Air Traffic Controller had recorded in the tower logbook that maintenance works on the runway had been completed and all vehicles had left the runway despite there being two other vehicles still on the runway doing painting works.

“The contract workers doing the painting works explained that they started painting the runway centreline from threshold of Runway 15 and moved towards the threshold of Runway 33. They were using the contractor’s vehicle moving along the centreline and initially the escorting vehicle followed them closely behind.

 “After a while, the workers realised the escorting vehicle was left behind with no apparent reason obvious to them and the escort vehicle remained static as far as approximately 30m behind.

 “The controller on duty handed over his shift at 3am to another controller with the information that no more work (was being carried out) on the runway (as recorded in the log book),” he said.

Loke said the Challenger reported its position to the tower controller at nine miles on its final Instrument Landing System approach on Runway 15 at 3.08am.

“After looking out on the runway to check on any abnormal activities or unusual lighting (to indicate vehicles present on the runway), clearance for landing was given to 9M-TST (the Challenger) after the controller was satisfied that the runway was clear for the aircraft to make a landing.

“As 9M-TST descended and (flew in) closer (on) its final approach, the leader of the contract workers saw the landing light of the aircraft approaching and realised there was an aircraft coming in for a landing. (Recognising the danger) all three workers boarded their vehicle and drove away from the runway.

“While making a 180-degree turn, the driver realised the escorting vehicle was still static at the last position (it had been seen). Based on witness statements, the workers flashed the headlights of their vehicle several times to attract the escort vehicle’s attention. No response was observed from the escort vehicle,” he said.

Loke said the public could access the preliminary report that would be uploaded on the Transport Ministry’s website.

He said one of the findings of the preliminary report was to conduct a thorough investigation on the standard operating procedures for communications between control tower and maintenance vehicles as well as for vehicles operating on the runway.

Photo Source: Bernama



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