The captain of the passenger plane that plunged into the Mekong River in Laos yesterday, killing all 49 people on board including five crew members, was a veteran Cambodian pilot nearing the end of his contract in Laos, Cambodia’s civil aviation authority has said.
State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) safety and security director Mak Sam Ol said Young San, 56, was in charge of the Lao Airlines plane that crashed in extreme weather on a journey from the capital Vientiane to the southern town of Pakse.
“He had a contract with Laos’ aviation [authority] for three years and had been there almost all that time”, he said.
San, a pilot with the defunct state carrier Royal Air Cambodge during the 1990s, trained in Russia and later in France, Sam Ol continued.
The aviation authority in Laos had informed their Cambodian counterparts that extreme weather had caused the crash, he added.
“During strong winds, the air controller told [San] to change course. He followed instructions, but the plane faced strong storms and it couldn’t get through.”
San’s family, including his wife, who had been spending time with her husband in Laos before the crash, could not be reached for comment.