24 July 2007

More Flying Woes

More news of air mishaps and what better timing than mere days before I am about to fly? Liew.....

First was an Aero Republica skidded off the runway and ended nose down into the sea.
Reports says that the runway was extremely wet and my speculation is that the poor water drainage system may have been the main culprit on top of the fact that this regional airport's runway length is significantly shorter than that of international airport standards. The runway length at Santa Marta's Simon Bolivar airport is 5,575 ft as compared to Bogota's El Dorado International Airport's 9,850 ft.

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Fortunately, there were no fatalities as casualty count was at a lucky 7. However, the same cannot be said of the landing crash in San Paulo, Brazil where the plane landed, skidded off the runway and slamming into a gas station. All 189 passengers on board perished in a great big fireball.

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For both incidents, I noticed a common denominator. Both were a result of short runway length with a wet slippery surface.

It was said that the Sao Paulo's Congonhas airport was nicknamed The Aircraft Carrier due to its difficulty to land - that if the plane did not touch down within the first 1,000 ft of the tarmac, the plane must pull and and retry to land again or risk overshooting the short stretch of a mere 6,362 ft of runway.

All these kinda reminded me of the old Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport where a Ch1na Airline plane did overshoot and landed in the sea back in 1993.

Speaking of Kai Tak Airport, here's a YouTube clip to see how the plane needs to land if it is assigned to land at RunWay 13. Runway 13 is famous for the fact that the plane needs to make a 47-degree right turn in the middle of descend in order to line up with the runway due to the hilly terrain surrounding the airport. The clip shows a Japan Airlines Boeing 747 making the landing but only barely.

Image Credits:,

- Voxeros

1. Gary left...
Tuesday, 24 July 2007 11:26 am
Controller: "Flight xx, you are required to land at runway 13!" Pilot: "wah lan eh.. im not that skilled as the japanese pilot in the youtube video leh!"

2. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 24 July 2007 2:49 pm :: 
Gary: Most runways have ILS (Instrument Landing System) for the planes to engage "auto-landing" i.e. letting control tower land the plane remotely.

However, due to the terrain surrounding runway 13, plane have to deploy a Visual Approach where the plane will have to look for a small hill checker-marked in red and white (middle marker) where they make an 47 degree right turn upon reaching the marker in order to line up with the runway to make the landing.

Take a bit of skill but nevertheless nothing that the pilots aren't trained for.

3. Pam left...
Wednesday, 25 July 2007 12:27 am
well, I thought about that when I was in Munich on Friday for a day meeting. Our flight back to London was cancelled due to really bad weather (you might have seen/read the flooding in parts of UK and lots of rain). Thankfully, they gave us a hotel room for the night, free dinner etc (even though I didn't have a change of clothes or anything else). Sometimes when it's seen as 'an act of God', they tell you that you just have to hang out at the airport! I got back eventually on Saturday afternoon.

4. JayWalk left...
Thursday, 26 July 2007 7:37 am :: 
Pam: Here's the thing that a lot of passengers do get when they whine and kick up a big ruckus about flight delays and cancellations. It was done to keep you alive.

Only problem is that I personally get frustrated when airline staff deliberately act stupid and keep quiet in their attempt to withhold information. I would have appreciated more if they were more forthcoming and tell us exactly what is going on.

5. Pam left...
Thursday, 26 July 2007 7:28 pm
We didn't kick up a fuss - and everyone got a hotel room, so that was fine. I guess the process could have been a bit faster but hey, at least we were stuck in Germany. I honestly think if we were in a London airport, it would have been a whole lot worse... without a hotel, without food ...much worse.

6. hiaoauntie left...
Friday, 27 July 2007 12:57 am
kai tak airport was known to be one of the world's most challenging airports to land... many times the pilots were damn scared about ending up in the sea... anyway, usually airlines used the more experienced pilots when landing in HK... it used to be that Cathay Pacific had some of the most capable pilots in the world (due to the numerous landing attempts and practice) and they were paid alot too! anyway, now they have the new airport.....

7. JayWalk left...
Friday, 27 July 2007 1:56 am :: 
Pam: Actually, we, if not most of us sans the whiny arseholes, all understand the delays and even the cancellations. Unfortunately, it is the condescending attitude of the airline staff that pisses everybody off.

hiaoauntie: Chap Lap Kok is definitely a much improved airport over Kai Tak. Unfortunately, cross-winds still proved to be a very dangerous challenge for pilots. I was there at the airport when a Ch1na Airline MD-11 flipped over as it failed to land safely.

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