Myanmar grounds MA60s after landing accidents

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Myanmar's civil aviation department (CAD) has grounded the operations of Xian MA60 turboprops in the country, following two accidents involving the aircraft type in the last month.

On 10 June, a Myanma Airways MA60 skidded off the runway at Kawthaung airport in southern Myanmar, damaging the China-made tubroprop's left engine and both propellers.

"Now the incident is under investigation. It seems the weather was fine then, but we still don't know whether it's a technical fault or human error," says CAD's deputy director general Win Shwe Tun.

He adds that the CAD is now co-operating with the Civil Aviation Administration of China in the investigation, and that both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder will be sent to China for analysis.

The accident on Monday comes after another MA60 operated by the state-owned airline was badly damaged after skidding off the runway while landing on 16 May. Although the airline declined to comment on the damage suffered by the aircraft, registered as XY-AIQ, images show that both the turboprop's forward and left main landing gear appeared to have collapsed. The four blades of the aircraft's port-side Pratt & Whitney PW127J engine were also torn off.

The CAD had said that this was caused by a braking error.

On 10 June, a Merpati Nusantara Airlines MA60 also suffered damage after a hard landing at Kupang's El Tari airport in Indonesia. Images show that the aircraft, with registration PK-MZO, suffered severe damage with the wing box partially detached from the fuselage, and the fuselage itself torn in the half forward of the wings.

The China-built MA60 and its newer model MA600 have mostly been sold to airline customers in developing countries. Several militaries of third world countries have also bought the aircraft.

Flightglobal's Ascend Online Fleets database shows that Myanma Airways operates three MA60 turboprops - with registrations XY-AIO, -AIP and -AIQ - all of which were built in 2010 and are owned by the airline.

"We'll have to wait till the end of the investigation to find out what is the problem, before we can decide whether to lift the grounding," says Win.