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Thai Airways pilot laments severity of Chiang Mai’s air pollution

Chiang Mai Airport: as it was (left) and as it is now (right). PHOTOS: Facebook/กัปตันไฟซอล บิน กิน เที่ยว Captain Faisal

A Thai Airways pilot has taken to social media to discuss the severity of Chiang Mai’s air pollution, saying it had the potential to pose a problem for less experienced pilots.

Posting on his popular “Captain Faisal” Facebook page, the pilot says Chiang Mai’s PM2.5 situation is serious and could see some flights having to divert. He says he landed his aircraft at the airport at around 9am on Saturday, April 6, and, as soon as the aircraft doors were opened, the first thing he noticed was the strong smell of smoke.

The captain says visibility was only around 2 kilometres and the Doi Suthep mountain was hidden in smoke. He adds that on his descent, he had to get down to a height of 200 feet before he could see the runway.

Captain Faisal later posted a follow-up message to answer several questions from his followers. Many had been asking how the poor visibility might affect flights trying to land at the airport.

The pilot responded by saying that despite the airport having a system to guide pilots in landing, those with less experience, who may not have the training to handle the situation, could be forced to divert elsewhere.

“This means that pilots will have to find an alternative airport, which is not Chiang Rai where the smoke problem is as bad as it is in Chiang Mai.”

The captain went on to say that unlike morning mist, which burns off once the temperature rises, the smoke can last all day, even with strong winds. For this, he blames the lack of action in tackling the source of the smoke.

While planes are equipped with an air filtration system that protects passengers, Captain Faisal says once they have disembarked, they have to deal with severe PM pollution and he urged anyone working outdoors to wear a mask.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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