Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Are Pilots fully trained to fly commercial aircraft?

Investigators looking into the plane crash which claimed at least 89 lives are asking the question of why the airport remained open when weather conditions were so appalling.

Survivors are also amazed that despite the pilot aborting one attempt to land they were still given permission to come in when palm trees were being bent by the strong winds.

Most of the survivors are recovering in hospital with burns and some broken bones. Ten of the dead are British and forensic experts are expected to be flown in aid the identification of the bodies.

The aircraft's black boxes have been found and sent to the US for analysis.

"Hopefully, we will learn in a few weeks the cause of the accident," transport minister Theera Haocharoen told reporters.

One survivor said:

."I saw palm trees bending back in the wind. I couldn't see how he was going to land," Mildred Furlong, a waitress from British Columbia, Canada, said. "We missed the runway first time, came back up and then tried again. We were all silent, then we suddenly hit the ground and there were screams.

"I thought I was going to die because the carriage was filled with thick black smoke and people had passed out around me. There were people burning in the plane, but the man behind me managed to kick open the exit after a few tries and I escaped through that."

Marcel Squinobal, an Austrian holidaymaker, said the plane had bounced up and down and swerved dramatically to both sides. "I don't understand why we didn't fly to Krabi and we could have taken a bus to Phuket."

John O'Donnell, from Co Clare, Ireland, said the pilot had tried to get the plane back in the air after it first hit the runway. "You can tell it was in trouble, because it kind of landed then came up again," Mr O'Donnell said from his hospital bed.

"The plane was flying around trying to land. It was making some noises and it was bad rain. There was a lot of smoke in the plane. I got out through the doors and I came out on to the wing of the plane ... I saw my friend outside. And next thing, it really caught fire, then I just got badly burned, my face, my legs, my arms."

This latest air disaster has bought into question the possibility of budget Asian airlines using sub-standard pilots. This meaning that pilots aren't fully trained to handle serious situations, and to keep up with the increase in air travel pilots who aren't used to flying commercial aircraft are being drafted in.

That certainly doesn't make me feel at ease!!

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