Chiang Rai Airport to stay closed until August 6 following Nok Air incident

The Nok Air plane which skidded off Chiang Rai Airport’s runway during landing on Saturday night was finally lifted out of the mud and removed at 4am today, but the airport will remain closed until August 6 due to poor safety standards.

The incident sparked a safety inspection by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT), which found that the airport does not meet the safety standards of the CAAT in several areas.

Once Mae Fah Luang Chiang Rai Airport can prove to the CAAT that the necessary repairs have been made and meet safety standards, the airport will be allowed to resume normal operations. The airport plans to reopen on August 6, once it completes the following demands…

  1. Repair the airport’s damaged electrical system and visual aids.
  2. Eliminate Foreign Object Debris (FOD) that arose as a result of the incident and provide measures to monitor FODs that may occur during the removal of the aircraft.
  3. Conduct a Friction Test before opening the runway to ensure the runway meets the CAAT’s safety standards.
  4. Improve conditions of the safety area around the Runway Strip where the aircraft skidded off by standards set forth by the CAAT to reduce the risk of damage to aircraft in the instance a plane came off the runway again.
  5. Submit a report to the CAAT once the aforementioned tasks have been completed.

Although the incident happened on Saturday night (July 30), the Boeing 737-800 was not removed until this morning (August 4). At first, the airport said it would take three days to remove the plane due to a crane being required to lift it out of the mud. However, a thunderstorm on Tuesday night (August 2) hindered the progress of the operation, said the airport.

The CAAT has asked the Nok Air pilots flying the runaway plane to provide information that will be analysed to figure out the true cause of the incident, which was classed as “severe” by the CAAT.

According to the Air Navigation Act of 1954, pilots must stop flying and undergo a medical examination in the event of an “aircraft accident.” The pilots’ medical examination and drug test came back normal, reported the CAAT.

Nok Air is still under fire from disgruntled passengers who spent over an hour in the cabin with no lights or air conditioning after the accident occurred. The shoddy evacuation has been heavily criticised as dangerous, with netizens expressing that an aircraft should be evacuated in no longer than 90 seconds in such a situation – in case the aircraft sets on fire or blows up.


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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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