Monday, June 26, 2017

AirAsia incident prompts expert warning on booking budget air travel

An aviation expert is urging Australians to think twice before flying with budget airlines after an AirAsia X flight bound for Malaysia was forced to return to Perth yesterday.

Passengers reported hearing a loud explosion before the plane began to shudder and some say the pilot urged them to pray they would return safely.

Strategic Aviation Solutions chairman and aviation expert Neil Hansford said people must take responsibility for their own safety when flying and visit airline ratings websites before booking.

"Australians regrettably think with their pocket and not their head," Mr. Hansford said.

"Because if you go to the trouble of working out whether out a carrier's got a record or not you would look at AirAsia and you would say 'well why would I fly with that carrier who can't get seven stars?'

"If the difference in the fare was $200, is my life worth $200?"

The mid-air drama on an AirAsia X flight from Perth to Kuala Lumpur follows at least four other incidents or accidents involving the Malaysian carrier in the past three years.

Despite landing the plane safely, Mr Hansford said the alleged behaviour of the pilot sounded anything but professional.

"Now in asking people to pray, that's almost saying that he's passing the responsibility to some other person that's not on the plane."

Mr. Hansford also said the pilot should have considered diverting to Western Australia's Learmonth airbase, rather than returning to Perth.

A replacement plane flew stranded passengers to Kuala Lumpur late last night.

AirAsia passengers undeterred by drama

This morning other AirAsia ticket holders at Perth airport were preparing to make similar journeys, seemingly undeterred by yesterday's drama.

"It won't happen two days in a row will it? I hope not, but I'm a Catholic and I can pray," joked AirAsia passenger Joe Kenney.

In 2014, an AirAsia plane crashed during a flight between Indonesia and Singapore.

All 162 passengers and crew died.

The plane made 78 trips between Perth and Bali with a mechanical fault that was not fixed in the 12 months leading up to the tragedy.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has confirmed it will investigate Sunday's incident and said it had received reports of an engine shutting down.

AirAsia yet to explain cause of incident

Meanwhile, AirAsia X has issued a fresh statement about yesterday's incident, saying it was investigating the cause "together with our engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce" and was cooperating with aviation authorities.

"We would like to stress that AirAsia Group has always strictly followed the maintenance programme prescribed by our manufacturers," the company said.

"We have also complied with all regulations and requirements as set forth by every country where the airline operates, including Australia.

"AirAsia Group has also initiated the process of undergoing voluntary IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) auditing for all airlines within the group, including AirAsia X Malaysia, AirAsia X Indonesia and AirAsia Indonesia, with AirAsia X Malaysia receiving two IOSA audit certificates in 2015 and 2016.

"AirAsia remains committed to meeting all safety and security requirements in all the countries that we operate in."

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