Vietnam Airlines pilots found responsible for plane landing on wrong runway

By Doan Loan   May 2, 2018 | 09:03 am GMT+7
Vietnam Airlines pilots found responsible for plane landing on wrong runway
The Vietnam Airlines plane that landed on the wrong runway in Cam Ranh Airport on April 29. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuoc

A Vietnamese co-pilot was in direct control of the flight, under the supervision of an American captain.

Vietnam's aviation authorities have found the flight crew responsible for a Vietnam Airlines plane landing on a runway under construction in the central province of Khanh Hoa last Sunday.

Initial investigation by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) found flight VN7344's pilots had mistaken the unfinished runway in Cam Ranh Airport for their authorized landing zone. A Vietnamese co-pilot was in direct control of the flight, under the supervision of an American captain.

The incident was deemed "serious," second only to aviation accidents in Vietnam's classification.

Authorities have retrieved the plane's flight recorder for further investigation, and an official result is expected to be announced in a few days.

According to an experienced civilian pilot, a plane's captain and co-pilot are required to communicate with each other throughout the landing process so the only way for such incident to happen is both pilots had failed to recognize they were heading to the wrong runway.

The American pilot, Andre Thomes Cuevas, 53, started working for Vietnam Airlines in January, with "limited" flying hours, Tuoi Tre reported. His Vietnamese co-pilot, 27, also just took the position recently.

A lack of marking on the under-construction runway is also being investigated as a potential cause of the incident.

Vietnam currently only requires markings for runways that were already in use but are closed at the time, while no marking is needed for those still under construction.

Following Vietnam Airlines' incident, the CAAV has suggested changes to the regulation to prevent similar incidents.

The VN7344 plane, which was carrying 203 passengers, took off at 2 p.m. on Sunday from Ho Chi Minh City, and was scheduled to land at Cam Ranh Airport at about 3 p.m. the same day.

No passenger or crew member was hurt by the landing mistake.

The incident has prompted the CAAV to suspend the two pilots and ground operators at Cam Ranh Airport responsible for the landing.

 
 
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