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Ministry puts Phuket Air under microscope

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Ministry puts Phuket Air under microscope | The Thaiger

BANGKOK (TNA, Gazette): The Ministry of Transport has promised to launch a probe into budget airline Phuket Air following a 24-hour delay in a flight from Bangkok to London which left more than 400 passengers stranded on April 11.

The seriousness with which the ministry is treating the matter was highlighted by the response of Deputy Transport Minister Phumtham Vejjayachai, who immediately convened a meeting of Phuket Air executives and officials from the Department of Aviation.

Speaking after the meeting, K. Phumtham said that he had ordered the department to closely inspect all of the airline’s fleet the same day.

Over the past four weeks, the airline’s planes have malfunctioned – or been thought to have malfunctioned – on five occasions.

On April 2, a Phuket Air Boeing 747-200 from Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport to Gatwick Airport, England made a scheduled refueling stop at Sharjah Airport in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

On takeoff, passengers noticed fuel spilling from one of the wings and suspected a leak.

There were, according to passengers’ statements, scenes of “screaming panic” on board the aircraft, and the airliner returned twice to the apron while engineers sought to identify the cause of the leak.

The airline later stated that the leak was the automatic release – via a “dump mast” – of excess fuel.

Both this aircraft – which eventually flew from Sharjah Airport to Gatwick, albeit with few passengers on board – and another Phuket Air 747, which had brought the remaining stranded passengers to the UK, were inspected by Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) engineers shortly after their arrivals in the UK.

The CAA inspections, which were requested by the UK Department of Transport, revealed shocking safety failures.

The aircraft that sparked the scare was found to have inoperative evacuation safety lights. Although this aged 747-200 was deemed airworthy, the CAA would not allow it to fly with passengers. It returned to Thailand empty.

The second veteran Boeing airliner, which had flown those stranded in the UAE to the UK, departed Gatwick en-route for Bangkok via Sharjah Airport on April 6. About one hour into the flight, the pilot shut down one of the engines and dumped 50 tons of jet fuel at 35,000 feet before heading back to UK airspace to land back at Gatwick.

CAA engineers found that a faulty gearbox seal – blamed on mechanics at Sharjah Airport – had caused the engine failure, but, perhaps more alarmingly, they established that the airliner’s collision avoidance system was not functioning.

CAA officials grounded the aircraft.

The April 11 incident was blamed on a hydraulics failure, as was an aborted March 18 flight from Bangkok to Phuket when the pilot was forced to return to Don Muang Airport and make an emergency landing some 15 minutes after takeoff.

K. Phumtham said that he had ordered a meeting with representatives from all the nation’s airlines, including budget airlines, for today, at which the airlines will be told to follow safety procedures rigorously.

In addition to these problems, Phuket Air’s deputy chief executive, Capt Chawanit Chiamcharoenvut, said that four aircraft that had been sent for maintenance in Indonesia have not yet been returned, and the airline has another two aircraft that need repair work.

As a result, the airline currently states that it has only two aircraft in working order out of a total of 12 listed on its website (www.phuketairlines.com).

According to a statement issued April 11 and posted on the Phuket Air website, “Phuket Air is now actively working to transfer passengers to other airlines that serve the same [international] destinations.

“As it is currently high season, these other airlines are heavily booked, which means we have not been able to transfer every passenger to an alternate flight.

“Therefore, we have arranged for food and accommodations for the remaining passengers who are waiting for the next available flights. We will also provide refunds to those who have canceled their Phuket Air flights.”

A Gazette staffer, due to fly back from Haad Yai to Phuket on Phuket Air today, was told at the check-in desk at the southern airport that his flight had been canceled. No alternative flight was offered, and when he requested a refund, he was told that he “…should ask his tour agent”. He is now traveling back to Phuket by bus.

The Gazette attempted to call the Phuket Air helplines – 02-5356708 and 02-5356696 – but was unable to get through.

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Crime

Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft

Greeley Pulitzer

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Now you see him, now you don’t… Patong Police hunt foreigner over $30k theft | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Patong Police

Patong Police have yet to develop any tangible leads tracking down a foreigner who made off with US$30,000 in cash from a currency exchange booth in Kalim, north of Patong in Phuket, last Tuesday.

The man is about 168 centimetres tall with grey hair and around 60 years old, Patong police told The Phuket News.

“We have no clue what nationality he is.”

He was last seen at the currency exchange booth wearing a purple polo shirt, blue jeans and black cap. Police have checked hotels in the area, police stations across the island and Phuket Immigration, but have yet to join the dots and come up with firm leads.

“Investigators have checked CCTV in the area and collected what evidence we have but we still do not know the man’s name or where he was staying.”

The man had visited the booth several times before Tuesday, when he disappeared with the $30,000 in US banknotes, according to police.

“It was always small amounts”, he added, noting that the amounts didn’t warrant staff at the exchange booth to check the man’s passport before making the exchange.

The man arrived at the booth again at about 1pm on Tuesday, saying that he had 900,000 baht cash to exchange.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Crime

Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room

The Thaiger

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Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Hot News

The security guard of a hotel in Nai Yang, northern Phuket, 52 year old Yingyot Butsabong, from Maha Sarakham province, was found dead yesterday (October 16) in his room. Police remain mystified how the man came to grief.

A woman named Supattra received a call from the hotel he worked at and was informed that he didn’t show up at work yesterday, so she went to his apartment to check on him.

She saw that his room was locked from the inside, so used the key she had in her possession to open the room and found Yingyot laying on the floor, face down. She thought he was just sleeping so she tried to wake him up but once she flipped him, she found that he already passed away.

She immediately called Saku police, and once on the scene, police found that there was some blood on the floor. The man had a 2 centimetre wound on his left eyebrow which was deep into his skull. There was also a wound on his chin about 1 centimetre long and about a centimetre deep. His left eye had a bruise which looked like he was attacked by a hard object.

Police report that he had been dead for around four hours in the room.

The room was not ransacked and there was no sign of fighting or theft. His body has been sent to Thalang Hospital for a detailed autopsy and to look into the cause of death.

SOURCE: Phuket Hot News

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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