P ILOT Chhay Woan of the Royal Cambodian Air Force (RCAF) has received a three-week
suspension after his plane ran into a house on landing in Ratanakiri on Feb 25.
The Russian-made Antonov was chartered by the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD)
to take government officials to a seminar on development in Banlung.
Passengers blamed the pilot's "negligence and irresponsibility" for the
crash. No one was hurt, except a woman who received a shock and was taken to hospital
after her house - a brothel - was hit by the plane's right propeller.
One MRD official said that he had prepared the official list of 37 government officials
and journalists who were to be on the plane, which had been chartered for $2,400.
But when he boarded the plane in Phnom Penh, he found there were other passengers,
"When I asked the pilot about this, he said: 'Sorry, we'd like to take some
extra people in order to make some money for lunch'. He smelled of alcohol,"
the official said.
Gen. Norodom Vatvany, commander of the air force, confirmed Woan's suspension. The
General said he had also heard the accusation about alcohol, but Woan had denied
drinking before the flight.
Vatvany blamed the incident on a brake malfunction and the poor state of the runway.