Officials Raise Concerns Over Old Aircrafts

The Minister of Tourism and a representative of a government-business working group on tourism ex­pressed concern October 19 following the crash of an aircraft in Cambodia on October 17, the second in five months.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon said that he has advised the State Secretariat for Civil Aviation to stop allowing old planes to fly.

“When [planes] get old it leads to crashes,” Thong Khon said, adding that he has made requests to the aviation secretariat many times to stop allowing airline companies to use old planes.

On October 17 at around 10:20 pm a 43-year-old Antonov An-12 car­go plane crash-landed in Kandal Stung district, 20 km south of Phnom Penh, after apparently being struck by lightning just outside Kampot province. The four crew­members and a passenger survived the crash landing.

It was the second Antonov aircraft to crash in Cambodia this year. In June, PMT Air Flight U4 241 crash­ed in the mountains of Kampot pro­vince killing all 22 aboard.

Thong Khon said that the crash would not negatively impact tourism as the plane was carrying cargo and not passengers.

Ho Vandy, co-chair of the Tour­ism Working Group, disagreed saying that both crashes not only negatively affect the tourism industry but the country’s overall reputation.

“The recent and the previous crashes have hurt the country’s reputation,” he said, adding that the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation should publicize clearly why the planes went down in order to ensure the public they are working to prevent future crashes.

“They must not blame the weather every time a plane crashes,” he said.

John Rico, an officer for Imtrec Aviation Co Ltd, defended his company’s use of the An-12 that crashed Wednesday, saying that his aircraft received regular maintenance and are considered by air inspectors to be airworthy.

Rico said during an interview at his office October 19 that such incidents are a normal, albeit unfortunate, part of the airline industry and he asked for the public’s understanding.

“If people have a broader mind, they will try to listen to the results of the investigation of the black box,” he said. Rico added that the plane’s flight data recorder will be sent to Russia and will take approximately one month to analyze.

Rico insisted that the crashed cargo plane, which was manufactured in 1964, was not too old to fly and that Antonov company representatives come to Cambodia annually to inspect their planes.

“It’s fortunate that there were no fatalities,” he added.

Mao Havannall, secretary of state for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, stood by the airworthiness of the latest Antonov to crash saying that it had been carefully inspected and received regular maintenance.

He also said that he wants to re­veal details of June’s PMT crash to the public, in which 22 people died, but he is still waiting for the manufacturer to release the results of its flight data recorder investigation.

 

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