On May 4th, a Thai AirAsia Airbus A320 landed on the wrong runway at Bangkok’s Don Muang airport. The aircraft landed on runway 21L but presumably was meant to touch down on runway 21R instead. With the incident involving the aircraft landing on an unassigned runway, Thai air incident investigators have rated it as a serious incident.
Flight and incident details
Taking place on May 4th, a Thai AirAsia Airbus A320-200, registered as HS-BBI, was performing flight FD-3141 from Ranong to Bangkok Don Muang (Thailand). The aircraft departed the western coastal city of Ranong at 12:43, performing an uneventful flight to the country’s capital.
Around 13:36, the Aviation Herald reports that the aircraft ended its service by landing on Don Muang’s runway 21L. Unfortunately, not many other details have been presented. However, given that the airport only has two runways, it’s presumed that the jet should have landed on the airport’s runway 21R instead. This parallel runway, as the numbers suggest, is just to the right of the unassigned runway.
The incident took place at Bangkok’s Don Muang airport. Photo: FlightRadar24.com
Accident investigators rate event as serious
The Aviation Herald has also noted that Thailand’s AIB has rated the occurrence a serious incident, and an investigation is underway. Again, details on the incident and investigation are scarce at the moment. As such, we don’t have any details on the circumstances leading up to the incident. However, the fact that the runway was ‘unassigned’ would indicate an error on the part of the flight crew.
It should go without saying that landing on an unassigned runway can have serious consequences. The 1979 crash of Western Airlines Flight 2605 is a good example, with the DC-10 landing on a runway that was closed for maintenance. Of the 89 people onboard, 72 were killed. A maintenance worker was also killed when the aircraft struck his vehicle. Low light, ground fog, and a number of other issues were contributing factors.
More recently, in July 2020, a United Airlines 787 was cleared to land on an occupied runway at Paris CDG. With the runway occupied by an easyJet A320, the pilots of the easyJet flight became aware of the situation and reported it over the radio, prompting the 787 to perform a go-around.
Don Muang airport: A golf course between the runways?
Also known as Old Bangkok International Airport, Don Muang was officially opened as a Royal Thai Air Force Base in March 1914. Located some 24km (about 15 miles) north of Bangkok, this smaller facility is the main facility in Bangkok for budget airlines. Thai AirAsia, Thai Lion Air, and Nok Air are among the main carriers using the airport.
The facility has two runways: 21R/03L and 21L/03R. Perhaps the craziest part of this airport is the fact that a golf course exists between the two runways and is owned by the Royal Thai Air Force. Airport Technology states that golfers are warned by a red light whenever a plane lands. Certainly, this interesting and seemingly unsafe golf course location deserves an article of its own, so stay tuned for that!
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