VN Air Can Challenge Report

Vietnam Airlines has 60 days to challenge the report on the crash of Flight 815 last September before the findings are finalized, Sok Sam­baur, the chief of the investigation board, said Wednes­day.

But unless the carrier’s objections to the report—which blamed the accident solely on pilot error—are valid, the rebuttal would be ignored, said Sok Sam­baur. He added he would be the final arbiter.

Vietnam Airlines’ Phnom Penh manager is in Vietnam at the moment and no one at the office in Phnom Penh could comment on the investigation results.

The report stated that the pilot ignored instructions from the control tower, as well as his co-pilot and flight engineer, who begged the pilot to turn back at an altitude of 30 meters because of poor visibility.

Flight 815, which crashed Sept 3 into rice paddies about 500 meters from Pochentong’s runway after its wing struck a palm tree, killed all but two of the 66 passengers and crew aboard.

Sok Sambaur emphasized that the airport’s lack of a very high frequency omni-range beacon and the distance-measuring eq­uipment had no part in the crash because it serves as a navigation aid only and is not used during landing. Airline industry sources have said that with the equipment, a plane can land in any weather. Without the beacon, pilots need visual contact.

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