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Phiboon Phapan: obliged to fly without knowing the crash cause

Survivors Still Await One-Two-Go Crash Report

Sunday, September 14, 2008
SURVIVING the crash of an aircraft is one thing. Flying again is the hard part.

Phiboon Phapan works for a Phuket trading company, so he has had to take to the air not once but regularly.

Twelve months after the One-Two-Go flight, laden with holidaymakers, crashed at Phuket airport, Khun Phiboon still worries when he has to board an aircraft.

But he does his job. He flies.

''It is not something I can forget,'' Khun Phiboon told Phuketwan.

When Flight 269 crashed in the late afternoon on September 16 last year, Khun Phiboon was returning home after a trip to Bangkok.

He helped his son and his boss escape the broken and burning fuselage, then turned back into the aircraft to help Phuket expat Robert Borland through the exit door and onto a wing.

''I had to help,'' Khun Phiboon said.

The man he turned back to assist and guide to safety will always be grateful to Khun Phiboon and wonder at his courage.

Both were admitted to hospital, along with the other 39 survivors, one of whom later died from her injuries.

That took the toll of passengers and crew lost in the crash to 90.

While the lives of the survivors have mostly become as normal as their injuries allow, the One-Two Go budget airline has since been grounded by Thailand's Department of Civil Aviation because of safety concerns.

The one-month ruling has since been extended for two more months, with the prospect of getting the airline back in the air now no easy matter.

There is also the likelihood of drawn-out court cases and perhaps a class action in the US or Britain, as survivors and their relatives seek compensation and justice.

Yet on Phuket, there are many people, especially in tourism, who feel the whole nasty business should be forgotten as quickly as possible. They seem blinded by self-interest.

Others want to know what happened, and why. Flying in or out of Phuket will always carry an element of concern until the causes of the crash are clarified.

A thorough investigation and a public report are vital to obliterate the risk that an incident like that might happen again.

Pretending that nothing happened is the surest way of increasing the danger to all present and future fliers.

Surprisingly, despite the need for closure, the official report on the crash has yet to be released, although copies have been circulating in Thailand to people with a vested interest in the outcome.

But the survivors? They must wait, apparently, until all the authorities have had their chance to read and digest the report, and perhaps to offer alternate accounts.

A bit like Khun Phiboon, only when the precise details of the cause of the tragedy are revealed will many people who fly in or out of Phuket cease to feel a twinge of concern.

Further delay hardly seems fair for the survivors especially, even if most of Phuket has been attempting to carry on as normal.

Living through the crash is one thing. Flying again is the hard part.

Essential Reading:

Protest Delays One-Two-Go Crash Report
The work of Government officials is being slowed because the attention of senior people is being diverted by the protest. Now the full One Two Go air crash report has been put back yet again.
Protest Delays One-Two-Go Crash Report

Phuket Victim Welcomes One-Two-Go Report
The major finding of a report on Phuket's One-Two-Go air disaster has been released and one of the survivors believes it will be a step towards closure for many. But questions about the adequacy of pilot training remain.
Phuket Victim Welcomes One-Two-Go Report

DCA Report Lashes One-Two-Go Safety Standards
The Director General of Thailand's Department of Civil Aviation has delivered a strongly critical report following the department's investigation of the One Two Go airline and its parent, Orient Thai.
DCA Report Lashes One-Two-Go Safety Standards

Law Suits Fly As Experts Dither
The crash of One Two Go Flight 269 disturbed a peaceful Phuket Sunday in 2007, just as the tsunami had done a few years previously. Now the tragedy seems destined for extensive international court action in search of justice and the truth.
Law Suits Fly As Experts Dither

I Am Flying Again: Phuket Plane Crash Survivor
A Superman suit and a decompression chamber help a Phuket plane crash victim to fly again. But Robert Borland still wants the answer to one important question: why?
I Am Flying Again: Phuket Plane Crash Survivor

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