Samui Airport needs wind warning system

6 May 2013

Last month’s Bali air crash has exposed the risks pilots landing at airports such as Samui International face from unpredictable winds. The pilot of the Lion Air Boeing 737 told an inquiry into the accident that wind acting like an unseen hand pulled his aircraft into the sea just as he was approaching the landing strip at Bali.

Airline safety executives say airports such as those at Bali and Koh Samui are not equipped with ground-warning systems that warn pilots about what is known in the industry as the wind shear factor. Wind shear is basically turbulent winds which can change direction on a whim and are common throughout Southeast Asia.

Boeing and Airbus aircraft are fitted with on-board early warning systems for wind shear. Safety officers say these systems are not foolproof and are better used in conjunction with ground based systems.

The cost of a state-of-the-art low-level wind shear alert system is currently around US$1 million (29.70 million Baht). Qantas Airways pilot Richard Woodward has 30 years experience of landing at airports in the region and he says that ground-based systems give advance warnings about possible turbulent winds.

Airport workers and air-traffic control officers claim that while money is being ploughed into improving passenger terminals and enhancing on-the-ground amenities for travellers, little is being spent on basic safety equipment. This 1Stop Samui webpage has more details about the island’s airport and the airlines that fly here. 

Tags: Airport wind warning

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