PX flights’ close call

National, Normal

By Staff reporters

QUICK action by the captain of an Air Niugini aircraft averted a major air disaster that would have resulted from two aircraft colliding on the Jackson Airport runway in Port Moresby on Saturday morning.
Passengers on board flight PX111 were alarmed when their aircraft aborted landing as it approached the runway with its landing gear already down.
PX111 was an F100 flight doing the Wewak- Madang- Port Moresby sector early Saturday morning.
A passenger, who was seated in the front part of the aircraft, said they were descending to land from the Gerehu end (northwest) when he noticed an aircraft below them, also approaching the runway with its wheels down.
“I knew something was wrong.
“It did not look right that another aircraft should be close to us heading in the same direction.
“ I was shocked.”
He said suddenly, the aircraft lifted its front and increased power, aborting the landing and flying away to circle the airfield once again, coming in to land minutes later.
Passengers were alarmed and wanted to know what was going on.
Civil Aviation sources said there were three aircraft operating in the area at the time, and it appeared the control tower had delivered conflicting instructions to the pilots on their landing times.
“This is very serious. A catastrophe was avoided because of the skill and experience of the pilot of our plane.
“There must be an investigation into this near collision,” the passenger said.
Passengers demanded answers as they disembarked the plane and expressed anger at the Civil Aviation Authority.
An Air Niugini staff at the Jackson Airport said yesterday that flight PX111 landed at 8:38am.
This was about 28 minutes later than its scheduled time. He did not say why.
Civil Aviation Authority chief Joseph Kintau, when asked yesterday for information of the incident, was surprised that an incident of such enormity had happened and asked who had provided The National with information on the matter.
He said he had not received an incident report and was made aware through this newspaper’s enquiry.
“I am not aware of it. In fact, I only learnt of it through you. I have not seen anything on it,” he said.
He said Air Niugini had not reported the incident and neither did CAA operation staff.
Mr Kintau also denied that the control tower could have been left unattended to as a result of the Air Traffic Controllers strike last week.
“The tower is always manned, unless there is an industrial action and when that happens, we put out a notice.
“That did not happen,” he said.
But he gave his assurance that the incident would be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken if needed.
Air Niugini was contacted yesterday, however, The National was told that managing director Wasantha Kumarasiri was in a board meeting all day.