Nok Air Pilot Asked To Explain Why Passengers Remained Aboard

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) announced that it would summon the captain of the Nok Air flight that went off the runway at Chiang Rai airport to explain why passengers remained on board the plane for about an hour after the Saturday incident.

On Monday, CAAT director general Suttipong Kongpool said the regulator would order the chief pilot of Nok Air’s flight DD108 to explain why the motives behind the decision. CATT needs to hear the captain’s explanation, he added.

The Boeing 737-800 aircraft departed from Don Mueang to Chiang Rai, carrying 164 passengers and six crew members, but it slid off the runway due to bad weather. Its undercarriage cooled while trying to land in heavy rain in the northern province of Mae Fah Luang on Saturday night.

No injuries were reported, but the captain decided to turn off the aircraft’s engines after the accident and left the passengers inside a dark cabin with no air conditioning.

Crew members asked passengers to stay on board until airline buses arrived to take them to the terminal.

However, at least 20 passengers decided to leave in vans because the buses arranged by Nok Air had not arrived after an hour. Some also complained about the cabin’s conditions, saying that it had no fresh air, which could cause breathing problems, and it was dark.

In a video shared by a passenger, a crew member asks people to remain seated, saying no people were allowed on the runways.

The passengers continued to complain and insisted on leaving the plane. In response, the captain allowed an emergency exit door to open and people disembarked on a slide.

However, the CAAT’s director general explained that international aviation protocols indicate that all passengers must be evacuated no more than 90 seconds after a serious incident.

“The captain is the one who makes the decision on evacuation after assessing the situation, including external factors,” Mr. Suttipong stated, clarifying that the evacuation rules are flexible to passenger safety if required.

The CAAT has not blamed the chief pilot for the slow evacuation, as heavy rain and the need to wait for buses could support his decision, he added.

Nok Air has not explained the move, but its chief executive Wutthiphum Jurangkool said on Monday that the airline had complied with all aviation safety guidelines and would launch an investigation into the accident.