Xian Aircraft MA60 grounded in China

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Chinese airframer Xian Aircraft has asked the Civil Aviation Administration of China to temporarily ground its MA60 turboprop after a malfunction on an Okay Airways MA60 yesterday.

The incident occurred when the MA60 was operating flight BK2870 was on the Tianjin-Shenyang route. In a statement, Okay Airways says the turboprop was preparing to land at Shenyang’s Taoxian International airport when the flight crew encountered problems with the its landing gear indicator.

The crew subsequently followed instructions on the flight manual and performed an emergency landing. The aircraft eventually touched down at 20:19 local time, more than two hours after its scheduled arrival.

Xian Aircraft says preliminary investigations pointed towards a malfunction in the aircraft’s landing gear indicator system. As a precaution, the airframer has requested for a temporary grounding of the type in China. It has also deployed teams to foreign operators of the Chinese-made turboprop to perform safety checks.

It is understood that the flight crew on the Okay Airways MA60 had lowered the aircraft's landing gear, but it was not shown on the indicator, leading to confusion on whether the landing gear was actually down.

This is the first time the MA60 has been grounded in China, despite the number of incidents the type has racked up.

Just earlier this month, a Joy Air MA60 was damaged after its nose landing gear collapsed at Zhengzhou International airport. The aircraft was taxiing after landing when the incident happened.

Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database shows that the MA60 had registered 14 incidents between 2009 and 2014. Of these, seven were major aircraft losses.

The most serious of the accidents happened in 2011 when a Merpati Nusantara Airlines’ MA60 crashed into sea while attempting to land in bad weather at Kaimana Utarom airport in West Papua. All 21 passengers and four crew onboard were killed.

More recently, Myanmar’s civil aviation department grounded the type in the country last June following two incidents where Myanma Airways’ MA60s skidded off the runway while landing. Indonesian authorities also conducted a “special audit” on the type last year after a Merpati MA60 suffered damaged after a hard landing at Kupang’s El Tari airport.

The MA60 and its newer model, the MA600, have mostly been sold to airline customers in developing countries. The type does not have certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration.

Ascend data shows that there are 88 MA60 and MA600 turboprops in the market. Of these, 30 are in storage.