Burst tyres cause discomfort, not danger

Burst tyres cause discomfort, not danger
STALLED: Tyre debris was found on the runway when Malaysia Airlines flight MH192 went back to Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

MALAYSIA - When the tyres of two different planes blew out over the weekend - one during take-off and the other, when landing - the issue of passenger safety was thrust into the spotlight.

Relax, aviation experts told The New Paper, such incidents are not unusual.

Mr Gerry Soejatman, an independent aviation consultant based in Jakarta, Indonesia, said that tyre bursts happen on a "regular basis".

"They are usually non-news items in the past, but in this day and age of social media, people tend to report these, and citizen monitoring of aviation is rising," he said.

He added that there was no increase in the number of tyre-related aviation incidents.

On Saturday, a Singapore Airlines flight SQ322, had to turn back to Changi Airport due to an air-conditioning fault.

Upon landing, the tyres deflated as they were not designed to support the combined weight of the London-bound plane and the full fuel tank.

The next day, a Bangalore-bound Malaysia Airlines flight MH192 was told to turn back 15 minutes after taking off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport due to a gear malfunction.

Tyre debris was found on the runway.

Mr Paul Yap, who heads the aviation department at Temasek Polytechnic, said: "With any complex equipment like an aircraft, mechanical faults are bound to happen."

If pilots think that the faults may jeopardise the safety or comfort of the passengers, they either turn back to their home base if they are not too far off, or find the nearest available landing point, he explained.

"Some of the more common problems could be an engine or navigation system failure. It could be human factors as well, like unwell passengers or crew members," Mr Yap said.

"People are a little bit more sensitive to such incidents due to the timing of the (MH370) crash.

"When SQ had cabin pressure issues before, nobody batted an eyelid."

One of the theories behind Malaysia Airlines flight MH370's disappearance on March 8 involves landing gears that had burst on take-off before setting off a catastrophic fire on the plane while it was at cruising altitude.

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