Subang runway crash: Plane received clearance to land but findings show weak SOP

Terence Tang

Transport Minister Anthony Loke holds up a copy of the report on the Subang Airport runway accident during a press conference in Putrajaya April 19, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, April 19 — The private jet involved in the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport runway collision had received landing clearance from the Subang Control Tower before the accident.

This is based on preliminary findings with regards to the crash, prepared by the Ministry of Transport.

The report also found that there was a lack of communication at certain points between the tower controllers and two vehicles on the runway during the March 18 crash.

“Subsequently, at 1.00am (on March 18), two vehicles comprising an escort vehicle and a maintenance vehicle carrying three contractor workers for runway centreline painting work were allowed by the duty air traffic controller to enter the runway via threshold runway 15 to do the painting, “ Transport Minister Anthony Loke told reporters at a news conference today.

While the escorting vehicles were able to communicate with the control tower via walkie talkie, Loke revealed that the maintenance vehicle did not have any means of communication with the tower.

Loke said at 2.15am, the air traffic controller on duty at the time had recorded in the tower logbook that maintenance works on the runway had been completed and all vehicles had vacated the runway.

However, he revealed that the particular vehicle were actually still on the runway doing painting works.

Loke said based on the report at 3am the air traffic controller ended his work for the day while another controller started his shift.

The new controller then minutes later gave clearance for the particular plane to land, after looking out on the runway to check on any abnormal activities or unusual lighting and checking the logbook records, Loke explained.

Meanwhile, the contractors on the runway said that while working, they realised that the escorting vehicle had stopped approximately 30 metres behind their own vehicle with no reason given.

When the contractors saw the landing lights of the approaching plane, they claimed to have started driving away from the runway.

As the escorting vehicle was still stopped at the same position, the contractors flashed their vehicle headlights several times to attract its attention, but they failed to respond, one of the contractors had stated.

When the escorting vehicle continued to not give any response, the contractors drove their vehicle away from the runway and stopped at the Foxtrot taxiway, to give way for the plane to land, the report showed.

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