Runway Pothole Causes Delay at Hat Yai Airport

A Lion Air plane struck into a pothole on the runaway at Hat Yai International Airport, causing a four-hour delay on May 2, 2015.

SONGKHLA — An pilot accidentally drove a passenger plane into a pothole on the runaway at Hat Yai International Airport yesterday, causing a four-hour delay.

According to Jessada Petchmetyai, the airport's director, the Lion Air plane struck a 20-centimeter hole on the runway yesterday morning as it was about to depart for Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok. 

The pilot decided to abort the flight and evacuate all of the 182 passengers, causing all departing and incoming flights at Hat Yai International Airport to be delayed. Jessada told reporters that technicians later moved the airplane from the runway, allowing all flights to resume in the afternoon.

Jessada said the Lion Air pilot accidentally drove the plane off the runway boundary onto a "soft-ground area" not suitable for airplanes. 

"The incident was caused by a technical error in navigating the plane of the pilot," Jessada said. 

Thailand is currently under scrutiny by the the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which carried out an audit in January and found serious gaps in safety standards at some airlines operating from Thailand.

The ICAO says it will formally downgrade Thailand’s ranking in early June if the Thai Department of Civil Aviation is unable to fix the safety flaws in time. 

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