Skating Thai Planes

The tourist industry in Thailand has grown incredibly rapidly over the last few decades thanks to cheaper air travel and increased disposable income. New airlines are popping up everywhere and more tourists than ever are arriving in Thailand.

This growth in tourism has brought many benefits to Thailand, but it has also caused problems. Many of the airports and planes are poorly maintained and the runways are in bad shape. When growth comes too quickly, it can sometimes come at a price.

Planes Sliding Off Runways

Imagine being on a flight during your holiday to Thailand and landing at the airport, only to keep on skidding without stopping! This terrifying experience happened to the people on a small Nok Air flight from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani on Sunday Oct 6, at Udon Thani airport.

Luckily, all passengers and crew members on the flight are alive, although they must have had a horrifying and panicked few minutes while they were sliding off the runway – unsure of whether they would be able to stop. The incident delayed 99 arriving flights by about 15 minutes and 106 departing lights for more than 30 minutes on average.

Officials still have not determined the cause of the incident. The airline has claimed that there was a “glitch” in the engine, but refused to offer any more details. The airline reported that the damaged plane had been in service for 18 years and last underwent maintenance back in April. If the accident was caused by a malfunctioning engine, this is a very worrying statement, as planes with dodgy engines are the last thing that we want!

You might think that this incident is an isolated one, but back in September a Thai Airways International flight skidded off the runway while landing at Suvarnabhumi airport. This was a result of the landing gear on the right side of the plane breaking off after touching down on the runway. In this incident, 40 passengers were injured and 14 of them were hospitalised. Authorities needed to close down half of the runway for repairs until the plane could be moved.

What’s Going On?

So why are aircraft in Thailand sliding and crashing around so much? It might be a coincidence, but it also might be a symptom of what happens when you experience rapid tourism growth in a developing country.

Of course, there is no cause for alarm and you shouldn’t cancel your flight to Thailand. These are just two flights out of thousands of planes that arrive in Thailand every day – so your odds of sliding off the runway are very slim!

Will airport infrastructure and rapid development be able to keep up with safety standards in Thailand? Let us know what you think in the comments. 

photo credit: caribb via photopin cc
photo credit: Aero Icarus via photopin cc


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