RAC Halts Flight Before Premier’s Takeoff

A Royal Air Cambodge flight from Phnom Penh to Bangkok aborted takeoff Wednesday morning due to mechanical problems, roughly an hour before Prime Minister Hun Sen left for the Philippines.

The RAC plane was accelerating toward takeoff at about 7:15 am when its pilot noticed the temperature of one of its turbines was too high, said Keo Sivan, deputy director of the air traffic service department at Pochentong Air­port.

The pilot also saw that the plane’s auto-pilot computer was not working, according to Hem Theng, chief of police at Pochen­tong airport.

None of the plane’s 29 passengers were injured in the emergency.

The plane aborted its takeoff in full view of several government officials, who had gathered at the airport to bid Hun Sen farewell.

This incident comes just 15 days after fuel spilled out of an RAC plane set to take King Norodom Sihanouk to China. The King canceled the RAC trip and successfully flew to Beijing a few days later on China Southern Airlines. Hun Sen also flew China South­ern on his trip to Manila Wednes­day.

“We have no confidence in RAC,” said Hul Phany, the director of protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who had a part in the decision to send Hun Sen on China Southern Airlines.

The prime minister has long been a critic of RAC.

He fired the airline’s chairman and vice chairman after the Aug 1 fuel spill, and has said he is unconcerned if the airline folds.

Most passengers on Wednes­day’s aborted flight were able to depart for Bangkok on a 9:40 am RAC flight, an airline official said.


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