Monday, July 09, 2012

Another Kuwait Airways Almost-Crash

Al Watan had video taken by a passenger on Kuwait Airways flight from Jeddah to Kuwait on July 7th with 186 souls on board an Airbus A300 (not my favorite plane).  One of the many aging 20+ year old planes still flown daily through heat and dust and in poor repair.

A Kuwaiti woman posted about  the video on Facebook saying,

“They were reciting the `Shahadas' on Islam- that usually means in such cases they fear it is the end, and in Islamic teaching, if those two Shahadas are the last thing you say you go straight to heaven. No, I felt the fear in the video- when men started reciting really loudly.”

One engine burst and the other one stopped working.You can hear the engine noise, people crying and praying as the pilot tries to land the plane safely (which he, Pilot Mohammad Al-Sarraf, accomplished  miraculously in Medina.).  The video respectfully does not show faces, but you can see that many of the passengers were wearing the religious clothing associated with a journey for Omra. 

Newspapers have reported that Kuwait Airways has "decided to ground several ageing planes for repeated malfunctions."  "They" have been talking about upgrading the fleet for HOW long?  It is just a matter of time before an entire flight of lives will have been lost due to a lack of urgency to get anything accomplished.  Their families will have to mourn.  Future generations of Kuwaitis will remember the day and think back sadly.  Is this really the outcome they want?

The last time I flew on Kuwait Scareways was in 2006.  Although there were no malfunctions (Thank God!) with the flights, they were definitely the worst flights I had ever taken:  On the direct flight to NY:  an Indian man in the seat behind me insisted on placing his dirty, stinky feet between the seats so that they would be next to me.  The flight attendant apparently didn't feel empowered enough to do anything about it.  On the return flight (London to Kuwait), Kuwaiti police brought a female prisoner on board who proceeded to cry in agony and plead for her life - even to fellow passengers - during the entire trip.  Obviously, she wasn't being extradited (if UK authorities even knew about it) for a petty crime. I was traumatized and couldn't stop crying for the next few days.  NOT a relaxing flight; although no where near as horrific as the flight from Jeddah.I am sure those poor people are going to be affected by it for a very long time.

July 11, 2012 Update

Arab Times
Many KAC planes not ‘fit’ for flying Passengers shifted to other airlines

KUWAIT CITY, July 10: Acting Minister of Communications, Social Affairs and Labor Salem Al-Utheina has submitted a comprehensive report on the Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) fleet to the interim Cabinet, reports Al-Jarida daily quoting sources.

Sources revealed that Al-Utheina stated in his report that many KAC airplanes do not meet the safety and security conditions; hence, they are not fit for flying. He asked acting Prime Minister HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak to quickly charter new planes to support the old fleet. He said KAC will refer passengers affected by the suspended flights to other airline companies, sources added.

Meanwhile, sources disclosed some parties have expressed concern over the future of the corporation, especially after Al-Utheina decided to ground five airplanes to protect people’s lives. They also want to know if KAC will be restructured or privatized to prevent further collapse.

Some experts pointed out the modernization of KAC’s fleet will not make any difference unless the company improves its reputation. They said it is better if the government presses ahead with the plan to privatize the company.

Other experts think the best way to address the problem is to restructure KAC before taking the necessary procedures for its privatization by converting it into a public company, which will be affiliated to the Ministry of Communications and under the supervision of the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA). They suggested the government can sell the company after restructuring but it should keep majority of the shares. They added the problem of KAC got worse when some MPs rejected the proposal to purchase new aircraft.

In a related development, Al-Watan Arabic daily has quoted Sheikh Salman Al-Otaibi, who was on board the KAC aircraft that malfunctioned recently, as saying the company does not care about the lives of passengers. He said the passengers, who were on their way to perform Omrah, survived through the mercy of Allah.

Sheikh Salman made the statement at a dinner party organized by his uncle in his diwaniya to celebrate his safe return from the so-called ‘flight of horror’. He unveiled his plan to file a lawsuit against the company, which is responsible for the lives of passengers. He also stressed the need to upgrade KAC’s fleet to prevent the recurrence of the horrible incident in the future.



Anonymous said...

National carriers are like diplomats, where they land in a foreign country, they represent the status of that government. In this case, the condition of Kuwait Airways states to the world that the Kuwait government is not functioning well, to say the least. It is about national pride, it is about national patriotism that this government immediately address the condition of their national carrier. If this plane was to go down and lives were lost the blood is on the hands of the Kuwait government. Does anyone even care? Do they really think that they can continue on this road of abandoning the key issues of this nation and just go travelling? It is not about investing abroad, it is about investing in this nation. It is about their responsibility to uphold and maintain the dignity of this nation for all. Just look at their airport, the gateway to their nation, where once again the constuction of a new airport lies on the Parliament floor. Do they not understand their role in government? What ashame, to loose your nation to occupying hostile forces just to trash it years later.

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 2:57 - VERY concise. I agree 100%.

I CHOSE to come to live in Kuwait in 1996; not for a job or a man, but because I loved Kuwait. What has happened to his country. What has happened the patriotism? It all just makes me sad.

Anonymous said...

There may come a time in the near future as you gaze across the beauty before you in your upcoming trip to Rhode Island, that you will have to face the fact that your time in this country may come to an end. The wonderful memories will always remain with you, but the pain that you may endure to stay here in such deteriorating conditions just may become unbearable for you. The greatest leader in the modern Arab world today once said, "It is not loud rhetoric and expansive actions which make strong leaders -it is thinkers, men of vision, whose humility and inner peace comes from their desire to put the welfare and happiness of their people above all else." And that my dear, it was the Kuwaitis need to understand. They need to understand that in a democracy, they can demand that their government perform for the benefit of this nation.

American Girl said...

I found out today it takes 5 years to get a new plane. Apparently there's a list, you choose the plane(s) you want to purchase, and then wait your turn in line behind the other airlines that are purchasing. Sadly, Kuwait Airways doesn't have 5 years to wait. Their fleet is ancient and poorly maintained. There's an (expensive) lease option, but I doubt they're going to opt for that. It's scary. I know SO MANY people who refuse to fly that airline (me being one). You would think this financial loss would be enough to encourage them to invest in a new fleet.

Angelo said...

Patriotism left the country when all the real men rolled out when the Iraqi "army" rolled down from the north. How do you expect people here to have pride in their throwing trash in the middle of the street, your awesome point about the national flag carrier AND airport, and treating others with outrageous disrespect only to say, "it's ok...i'm Kuwaiti" when at the first sight of an invading force, you head in the OPPOSITE direction?

Hate me if you want...but you know i'm right. This place will never get it's shit together as long as they fight like children over meaningless crap like religion and what tribe you be from, homey?

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 4:01 -

I always say that whenever I want to leave, I'll leave. But hey - the pain became unbearable when I was a child growing up in Rhode Island too. We moved. Over. If it happens, it happens.

Kuwait is not a democracy and I doubt it will ever be a true democracy. Being a true democracy means electing the officials - ALL officials. I doubt Kuwait is ever going to get there. Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy.

While it is nice to place our ideals on another country, it doesn't always happen and perhaps it isn't even right. It is what it is.

American Girl - Sad. I wonder what would happen if the "powers" had to fly full time on one of the KA planes; and I'm not talking the one that is established as "AF1" type.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they need to go to the courts to make this government perform!

Kuwait: A lawyer has urged in a lawsuit the suspension of all Kuwait Airways Corp flights for safety reasons, a day after the government grounded five aircraft.

Hawra Al Habeeb called on the court to assign an expert team to examine the 17-strong fleet of the flag carrier to establish if the aircraft are fit to fly after a string of incidents, the most recent of which was last week.

“The malfunctions at Kuwait Airways planes pose a serious danger to passengers’ lives while the government has failed to take any measure,” Habeeb said in a statement after filing the suit.
The court has not set a date for the case but is expected to do so in the coming days.

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 3:12 -

Hawra Al Habeeb - WOW! Now SHE is a hero. What a fabulous thing to do for her people. That is really a positive move. One voice CAN make a difference and I hope that it will in this case!

Thanks for sharing that.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, the noise you hear is not an engine but a normally functioning hydraulic power transfer unit designed to come on when an engine is shutdown.
Secondly, engine failure happens at least once a month in aviation. It's no big deal. The aircraft is designed to fly perfectly well with one engine. Two engines did not fail.
Thirdly the picture of a rotten aircraft is disingenuous! That is not a airworthy aircraft.
Fourthly, go get em lawyer Hawra! Just what we need....another so called experts opinion! What a supid request! Aviation experts look at Kuwait Airways on a daily basis from all accross the world and have yet to find any major safety problems.
Fifthly, me and my kids travel on Kuwait Airways all the time. It's as safe as any other airline. It just has crappy entertainment systems. Bring a book along, maybe some of the commenters here might learn something!

Anonymous said...

Not sure why anyone expects Kuwait Airways to work any better than any other Kuwaiti government department or ministry. On my first trip to Kuwait, I flew KA and wondered why there did not appear to be any Kuwaiti national onboard. Oh boy, did I ever find out soon enough!

The reality is that, if this flight was not for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the only lives ever threatened by a KA mushap would be those of poor expatriate laborers and a handful of other clueless foreigners.

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 5:47 - Ladies and gentlemen, sounds like we have our first KAC board member commenting. I'm so honored!

"Where there's smoke, there's fire..." ooops, coming out of left engine.... There has been enough of these stories (videos, photos) in the news lately from noteworthy media agencies (not me, DG).

Sorry, but I fly a LOT and I have never heard any engine make that noise.

But hey, you and your family just get on KA flights my friend. Don't let me stop you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5:47 - A major part of the problem is the KAC board along with the CEO and you should ALL be the first to be fired! Secondly, if I flew on your beloved airline I would currently be reading, "50 Shades of Grey", a book I think you would enjoy, and OK, I could learn alot from this book :) Thirdly, this national carrier is a disgraceful example of pure and simple government neglect of not only a national airline, but a total disregard to the safety of all passengers. Any airplane disaster will be blood on the Kuwait government's hand and quite frankly you and your family may be on the next tragic flight. All neighboring GCC countries have invested in their carriers that proudly control the world's aviation market with high success levels and once again Kuwait lags behind every GCC country with innovation and advancement in their society. National Pride of this nation needs to be restored and it begins with the overhaul of Kuwait Airways and the construction of a new gateway to this nation, The National Airport!!!! BOZO

Desert Girl said...

Really, Anonymous 5:47???

Have you seen the latest reports? A Sheikh is the latest to initiate a lawsuit, having been on the flight.

Anonymous said...

Should get FAA authorities in to inspect their facilities. I was working for an aircraft manufacturing company before i moved to Kuwait. Kuwait Airways was planning to buy/lease new planes from us but did not seem to happen. Bad image for Kuwait. Invest your money in the national carrier please.

Anonymous said...

SHAME ON YOU KA! This same plane that was grounded took off last night to where? Dhaka, because who cares if a bunch of cleaning workers die, is that it, KA? You'de have to be really desperate to get on a KA flight right now. As reported in a KT artcle yesterday, " In the meantime, according to Jamal Al-Mjtairi from the Kuwait Airways Union published the news that the same aircraft that nearly caused a disaster on a flight to Jeddah was last night bound to Dhaka. — KUNA".

ahmedNZ said...

To be honest, engine failures can happen with any airline and any aircraft regardless of age. The Qantas A380 incident is an obvious example and this was a 2 year old aircraft not 20. So there is an element of misfortune.

I don't know what the maintenance procedures of Kuwait Airways are, and I bet no one on this blog has a clue either. So lets not speak like experts when we don't know what we are talking about.

When it comes to aircraft, you can't just point to the age and blame that. Cathay Pacific, one of the best airlines in the world also has many 747-400 well over the age of 20.

Anonymous said...

They need better management not just a new fleet
They dont know how to handle cancellations and delays

Anonymous said...

They need better management, not just a new fleet.
KU is horrible when it comes to handling cancellations and delays