An Air Asia plane carrying 130 passengers and crew skidded off the runway as it landed at Kuching Airport in heavy rain last night.
Four passengers were believed to be unwell or suffered minor injuries.
The accident happened when Flight AK5218 from KL landed on runway 25 at 10.02pm. A passenger said the plane veered sharply to the left and right after it touched down and then skidded off the runway onto soft ground.
The question is, is drainage at the airport a problem – or was it something else?
The runway has been closed for now, and Kuching flights have been cancelled, Air Asia said on its website.
“So now, everyone can’t fly?” asked one tweet.
Services, however, are expected to be resumed later today.
Some users have suggested that drainage or some other factor at the airport runway could be a problem as several cases of skidding have been reported over the last decade (see below). The Kuching Airport runway length was “extended from 2454m to 3780m and shoulders from 46m to 60m, extension of existing parallel taxiway to a full parallel taxiway with interconnection/rapid exit taxiways including widening of taxiway fillets and shoulders to 30m”, according to Wikipedia. The work, under a RM620 million contract (another report mentions a figure of RM850 million) undertaken by Global Upline Sdn Bhd, was completed in 2008. Global Upline adviser Ting Pek King had been reported as saying that the four-year-long construction work was complicated as the area was swampy.
See Bernama report here.
Wikipedia reports other skidding or crash-landing incidents involving Kuching Airport:
- In 1999, a De Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou on a routine training mission crashed at the swampy area at the end of the runway. Five RMAF personnel were killed.
- In Feb 2006, a Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330 slipped off the runway while taxiing for take off. There were no fatalities or injuries. All flights into and out of Kuching had to be diverted, delayed or cancelled.
- On Feb 27 2006, a cargo plane of courier company DHL skidded at the end of the runway of the airport when landing at 6.20 am.
- On 13 January 2007, a Boeing 737-200 belonging to the Gading Sari Aviation Services Sdn Bhd crash-landed while attempting to land at 5.52 a.m. The aircraft’s fuselage was badly damaged, and the landing gears and right engine were torn off during the crash. All four crew members escaped unhurt. The airport was closed for six hours while the plane was towed away from the crash site and debris cleared from the runway. Departures and arrivals of 16 MAS and 14 AirAsia flights were delayed affecting 2,200 passengers – 1,000 passengers of MAS and 1,200 from AirAsia. An earlier flight from Kuala Lumpur had to be diverted to Miri Airport. Damages included navigational lights – eight taxi lights, five runway edge lights, two end lights, and one precision approach path indicator. It reopened at noon.
- On 10 January 2011, AirAsia Flight 5218 skidded on the runway whilst landing. The incident occurred around 10:15pm during a heavy downpour. Four passengers were rushed to Sarawak General Hospital, believed to have suffered from health complications.