Crash course for Chinese planes in Indonesia and Myanmar

Xian MA60 turboprops involved in two more landing mishaps, adding to fears for the industry's safety in Indonesia and Myanmar

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 June, 2013, 2:24am


Chinese-made Xian MA60 twin turboprop planes were involved in two landing mishaps yesterday.

There were no deaths or serious injuries in either crash.

The plane is badly damaged, I don’t think it can be used anymore

A state-run Merpati Nusantara Airlines plane carrying 50 people landed hard at an airport in eastern Indonesia, slamming both engines onto the runway, while a domestic Myanma Airways flight swerved off the runway on landing in Myanmar.

The Merpati plane was landing at El Tari airport in the East Nusa Tenggara capital of Kupang after a flight from Bajawa on Flores Island.

The plane was carrying 46 passengers and four crew members. Nine passengers were being treated at three hospitals.

Two foreigners were on board - a Malaysian co-pilot and an American passenger.

The cause of the hard landing is under investigation, but photos show both wings tilted forward and the engines resting on the runway while the nose gear appears to be missing.

"The plane is badly damaged, I don't think it can be used anymore," said Merpati spokesman Herry Saptanto.

Ety, the mother of the only baby on the flight, said she saw smoke inside the cabin before it landed. Like many Indonesians, she uses only one name.

The plane was made in 2007 and had been used by Merpati since 2010.

In May 2011, another MA60 plane flown by Merpati crashed into the ocean off eastern Indonesia, killing all 25 on board.

Indonesia is one of fastest-growing air travel markets in Asia, but it has a troubled history when it comes to air safety.

In April, a Lion Air plane belly-flopped into the ocean just shy of the runway off the resort island of Bali and snapped in half.

All 108 people aboard survived. Some swam from the wreckage while others were plucked from the water by rescuers in rubber boats.

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Committee has urged the budget carrier to immediately address safety concerns by providing more training for pilots during critical landing times.

In 2007, the Europe Union banned all Indonesian airlines due to a lack of compliance with international safety rules.

It has lifted restrictions for some carriers as improvements are made, but Lion Air and Merpati remain on the blacklist.

Myanmar state television, meanwhile, showed the scene of the plane that swerved off the runway in Kawthaung in southeastern Myanmar after a flight from Yangon, via Mawlamyine.

The plane carrying four crew and 60 passengers came to a stop in bushes about 60 metres off the runway, with smoke coming from the left side propeller housing. The propellers on both wings were damaged.

The accident comes as Myanmar is experiencing a boom in tourism after instituting democratic reforms that caused Western nations to lift most sanctions that had been applied against the previous military regime.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse