A Wings Air flight veered off the runway at Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport and into a sewer. The aircraft, traveling from Bali’s neighboring island Lombok to Denpasar landed at Ngurah Rai Airport on Tuesday 31st June at 2.45 pm.
There were no injuries and all passengers and crew were evacuated safely. They were all shaken by the incident and reports share how the passengers and crew were screaming in panic as the airplane veered off the runway.
An investigation is underway to determine exactly how the airplane ended up in a sewer culvert. It is believed that the rear wheel of the plane could have been punctured during landing. This would have caused the rear end of the plane to snake and slide into the sewer canal. An alternative theory is that the pilot simply misjudged the taxi route.
Local news reports suggest that the pilot of the Wing Air IW-1963 aircraft, Agus Arianto, did not exercise sufficient caution during the plane’s taxi back to the terminal buildings. The aircraft was carrying 68 passengers from Lombok on a flight that takes 40-minutes in good conditions.
The pilot had nearly arrived at the designated stand when the wheels veered into the canal. Ngurah Rai Airport Police arrived on the scene immediately, followed by the airport’s rescue team. The plane was evacuated and the passengers and crew were driven back to the terminal building.
The process of removing the aircraft from where it was lodged in the sewer culvert took several hours. The process required the rescue team to bring in specialist equipment and consult with airline technical teams and the airport rescue squads.
Airport Police Chief AKBP Ida Ayu Wikarniti said that he suspected that the sewer culvert metal cover was broken which is why the aircraft got lodged in the hole. He said that the answers will be revealed after a full investigation has been done and that Angkasa Pura, Indonesia’s state-owned enterprise responsible for all airports in the country, will release the findings to the public.
Despite a scare for passengers and crew, there were no injuries or further delays caused by the incident. The passengers were evacuated from the aircraft as quickly as possible. As the Wings Airplane was so close to its parking bay at the time of the incident the runway at Ngurah Rai Airport was not affected.
The inbound flights were all able to land and air traffic control and airport operational teams redirected taxing planes to different parking bays so as to avoid the stranded Wings Airplane.
This incident may raise questions as to whether the IDR 51 billion (USD 350 million) budget for Bali Airport’s new VVIP terminal is being well spent. Ahead of the G20 Summit in November private contractors have been called upon to build a brand new VVIP terminal at Ngurah Rai Airport to welcome presidents, prime ministers, royalty, delegates, and industry leaders to the island.
The Minister for Public Works and Public Housing, Basuki Hadimuljono, who is overseeing the project, has stated that the IDR 51 billion will not only build the VVIP terminal but also fund important renovations to the airport as a whole. This includes improvements to the perimeter fence, a revamp of the cargo terminal, and the technical operational infrastructure of the airport itself.
Bali Airport is the island’s only international airport and has seen a steep increase in the number of arrivals in recent weeks. As the world begins to reopen as the pandemic is bought under control, Bali is hoping that the steep increase continues until the number of arrivals hits pre-pandemic levels.
Through May the central government relaxed many Covid-19 restrictions, including the removal of masks outdoor, they added more countries to the visa on arrival programme and scrapped the pre-arrival PCR test for vaccinated travelers.
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