BANGKOK (Xinhua) – Thailand’s transport officials have been urged to stringently enforce aviation laws with harsh penalties to curb safety-threatening acts, after a lantern sucked into a plane engine caused flight cancellation.
Officials have been asked to crack down on activities that disrupt aviation operations, including the illegal broadcast of community radio waves, Bangkok Post quoted a source at the Transport Ministry as saying on Sunday.
Thailand has an aviation safety legislation with stipulation that anyone found to have conducted activities threatening to aircraft be subject to a jail term of five to 20 years, and life sentence or even death penalty under more serious circumstances, according to the source.
The move came after a Thursday incident in which pieces of a hot-air lantern were found in the engine of an Airbus A320 plane at Chiang Mai airport, causing immediate cancellation of the flight.
Transport Minister Prajin Juntong subsequently ordered a study of measures to prevent aviation accidents caused by lanterns and Bang Fai rockets.
The threat to aircraft is growing more significant as releasing lanterns and firing Bang Fai rockets have become popular entertainment activities all year round, deputy permanent secretary for transport Woradech Harnprasert said.
The Department of Civil Aviation will sign an agreement with relevant organisations in the coming week, with the goal of better regulating the release of lanterns, especially during major festivals, department director-general Somchai Phiphutthawat said.
It has been proposed that only a specific size of lantern made from fireproof materials should be allowed, and they should be released only at specific times and locations, Somchai said.