Friday, August 24, 2012

Vaimoso, Samoa: Near mid-air collision investigated

An investigation has been launched into an incident where a Polynesian Airlines plane nearly collided with a Samoa Air aircraft above Vaimoso on 21 June this year.

The investigation is being carried out by the Civil Aviation division of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (MWTI), CEO of Polynesian Airlines, Taua Fatu Tielu confirmed.

“The near collision was the result of miscommunication,” Taua said adding that it’s the first time such an incident has surfaced.

“Both airlines have lodged reports with the Civil Aviation and the investigation has already started on the matter.”

Repeated attempts to get a comment from Civil Aviation yesterday were unsuccessful.

But Taua said a report filed by the Polynesian Airline pilot who manned the aircraft that day indicated that Samoa Air did not advise them about the path of its flight.

“But Samoa Air claims that they did advise us,” said Taua.

The miscommunication resulted in the two planes being on the same flight path.

Chief Pilot for Samoa Air, Peniata Maiava, who flew the airline’s plane that day, downplayed the incident. Mr Maiava said he was with a co-pilot during the flight.

He told the Samoa Observer they were flying out of Fagali’i Airport while Polynesian Airlines was heading to Fagali’i and both planes had no passengers on board.

“There are many stories being thrown around,” Mr Maiava said. “The incident was the result of poor communication with the tower and the other aircraft.

“We have already sent a report through the proper channel to get it investigated. Nothing happened, people just think it did and a lot of stories are made up to make others look bad.”

Mr Maiava is unsure when the investigation would be completed.

“It will take some time,” he said. “We’ve filed our report with Civil Aviation and we have left it to the Airport Authority and the tower to deal with it.”

Mr Maiava said the result of the investigation should improve the safety of flights for the two airlines.

Taua agrees. He said he has already written to Samoa Air pointing out certain procedures they need to follow.

“That they must advise us before departure and before landing,” said Taua.

The CEO said safety is paramount and its something Polynesian values highly.

“Lets make sure we work together for the safety of passengers and also for the smooth running of all operations”.

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