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Sunday January 14, 2007

Cargo aircraft crash-lands, airport runway forced to close for six hours


KUCHING: A cargo aircraft from Kuala Lumpur crash-landed at Kuching International Airport here early yesterday, causing the airport runway to be closed for six hours.  

The Boeing 737-200 aircraft belonging to Gading Sari Aviation Services Sdn Bhd was trying to land at 5.52am when it skidded and spun 180 degrees before coming to rest on a grassy area off the runway. 

Its wheels and right engine came off during the crash-landing and the fuselage was badly damaged. Several taxiway and runway lights were also destroyed. 

Quick action: Airport personnel spraying an anti-flammable substance on the plane engine to prevent it from catching fire in Kuching yesterday.
The four crew members on board the plane were unharmed in the incident. 

The aircraft was operating as a mail courier for Pos Malaysia Bhd and had left Subang airport at 4am. 

Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah said the plane skidded to a stop about 1,500m from the start of the runway. 

“It was about 80m from the centre of the taxiway and 87.5m from the centre of the runway. Its position was affecting incoming and outgoing flights, so airport authorities had to close the runway to allow the aircraft to be towed away and debris to be cleared,” he told reporters at the airport. 

The closure delayed 16 Malaysia Airlines and 14 AirAsia flights, affecting some 2,200 passengers.  

“We apologise to all passengers,” Uggah said, adding that the airport was re-opened at noon. 

According to Uggah, debris including engine parts, tyres and broken pieces of lights had been strewn across the runway. 

“Luckily, the runway surface was not damaged.” 

The Department of Civil Aviation will investigate the cause of the incident. 

In Petaling Jaya, Pos Malaysia chief operating officer Mohd Zarif Hashim said Pos Malaysia uses one aircraft to send mail from Kuala Lumpur to Sabah and Sarawak on Monday and two from Tuesday to Saturday. 

Pos Malaysia Bhd and Gading Sari Aviation Services are now rushing to get approval from the authorities which would allow an aircraft to be brought in from Indonesia as a stop-gap measure. 

“There will be minimal disruptions in mail services to Sabah and Sarawak,” said Mohd Zarif. 

He said if efforts to get the replacement plane fail, Pos Malaysia would give priority to its Poslaju service on its single flight.  

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