Biman Crash Landing on Yangon Runway Under Investigation

By Moe Myint 9 May 2019

YANGON—Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) Deputy Director General U Ye Htut Aung told The Irrawaddy on Thursday his department will investigate the Biman Bangladesh crash landing that injured 19 at Yangon International Airport Wednesday night, to determine if the accident was caused by a pilot miscalculation or a technical error of the aircraft. All of the injured are stable, and none of the injuries were critical.

The DCA released a brief statement on its Facebook page saying the Bombardier Dash 8 flight from Dhaka to Yangon had 29 passengers on board, including an infant, and six crew members. U Ye Htut Aung said the pilot sustained a minor head injury in the head, and an engineer, a flight attendant and one passenger were injured, but none of them were in critical condition.

An airport rescue team quickly transported the injured—17 passengers and two pilots—to the nearest hospital, North Okkalapa Hospital. At about 10 p.m., all 19 were transferred to Yangon General Hosptial, in downtown Yangon, on the orders of Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein.

At about 7 p.m. on Wednesday a heavy rain poured down on Yangon, and wind-speeds were around 10 to 15 knots per hour. Despite such weather conditions, U Ye Htut Aung said, two Myanmar National Airlines and one Thai Airways flight had successfully landed prior to the Biman crash landing. Each previous flight had touched down properly, in one and two minute intervals, he said.

The Biman aircraft is believed to have incurred major damage, primarily to both the left and right wings and the landing gear (nose).

“We have to fully investigate the cause of the runway excursion. Based on wind speed and rainfall, we can say the weather condition was not that bad,” U Ye Htut Aung said. In initial reports, Biman had blamed the incident on bad weather.

Yangon Airport’s designated touchdown points for take-offs and landings are at either end of their approximately 11,200-foot runways. The Biman aircraft initially made a late touchdown in the middle of the runway, at about the 6,000-f00t mark rather than the designated zero-foot mark, then attempted to lift off again but bounced back to the runway about 2,000 feet away, before finally halting at the end of runway, according to U Ye Htut Aung.

Biman Bangladesh Airlines normally fly a Yangon-Bangladesh route four days a week.

Late Wednesday night, Bangladeshi Ambassador to Myanmar Manjurul Karim Khan Chowdhury visited the hospital to observe the patients’ conditions, along with Yangon Divisional Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein and several of his cabinet members. Within an hour, patients were transferred again to the recently-opened, 200-bed Aryu Private Hospital, in Tamwe Township.

According to the Yangon Regional Government’s Facebook page, U Phyo Min Thein spoke to senior doctors at Yangon General Hospital about the medical treatment of the patients, then instructed them to move the patients to Aryu Special Hospital.

But the Chief Minister’s midnight visit to the hospital has attracted mixed reactions, especially from one staff member at North Okkalapa Hospital who publicly criticized the move, saying that, although they are happy to see the Chief Minister visit patients, the Chief Minister, his staff, and the police appear to have breached hospital rules.

Despite doctors and nurses instructing them against it, officials took photographs in medical wards.

But, he said, the Chief Minister ordered an instant transfer of the patients to Yangon General Hospital because he was unhappy with the poor facility at the current hospital.

Within a few hours, the criticisms against the Chief Minister had attracted thousands of thumbs ups and hundreds of comments on Facebook. By the morning, it had been taken down.