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Officials: Black box from crash will not be released

Crash of PMT airliner in Kampot province in 2007 resulted in the deaths of 22, including Cambodian crew and 17 Korean nationals.

A REPORT detailing data collected from the black box of a 2007 flight that crashed in Kampot province will not be released to the public, officials at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) told the Post Wednesday.

A Russian-made Antonov An-24 aircraft operated by PMT Air crashed in June 2007, killing 22 passengers, including Cambodian crew and 17 South Korean nationals. South Korean media reported in 2007 that the crash was caused by pilot error, citing a recording of the final conversation between the pilot and the control tower. Cambodian officials have blamed the crash on a combination of bad weather conditions and pilot error, a position reiterated Wednesday by Khim Sophoan, a secretary of state for the SSCA.


A team of Cambodian investigators travelled to Moscow last year to analyse the black box data. The report that resulted from that trip has been released to aviation inspectors and relevant government ministries and victims' families, said PMT President Sar Sareth.

Khim Sophoan, who was part of the investigation team, said the visual and audio data obtained from the black box indicated the crash was caused by a storm as well as the pilots' decision to deviate from the designated flight path. Khim Sophoan and Sar Sareth said Wednesday that the crash was not the result of mechanical failure.

Kao Sivorn, the director of flight operation for the SSCA, said the decision not to release the report to the public was made in accordance with regulations outlined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, a UN agency that codifies international aviation procedures. Eng Sour Sdey, a government adviser who deals with civil aviation, also cited international regulations in explaining the decision not to release the report.

"In general, they never release the results of such an investigation, even to government officials such as myself," Eng Sour Sdey said, adding that he was allowed access to the black box data only one time last year.


Mao Havannall, a secretary of state at the SSCA, told the Post on Monday that he would chair a meeting in Phnom Penh this week that would bring together lawyers of the victims, airline officials and insurance company representatives to resolve the issue of compensation for the victims' families. No compensation has yet been paid.

He said those affected by the crash had the right to claim compensation in light of revelations that pilot error might have contributed to the crash.

But Sar Sareth said the amount requested by each of the South Korean families - which he said was between US$500,000 and $1 million in each case - was "too much".



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