An AirAsia A320-200 flying from Langkawi to Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Monday 30 December 2019, was forced to return to Langkawi just minutes into the flight after experiencing what was described as a “technical issue.”
Return to Langkawi
According to a report in The Aviation Herald, the aircraft (9M-AGU) was operating AK9327 when just after taking off there was smoke reported in the cabin. However, AirAsia has since confirmed that there was no smoke present inside the cabin. The aircraft returned to Langkawi, touching down about 13 minutes after departure.
There were 151 passengers and 5 crew on board the flight. The plane landed safely and no-one was injured. AK9327 is the daily 09:00 departure from Langkawi that is scheduled to touch down in Kuala Lumpur at 10:15.
Emergency services met the aircraft as it returned to Langkawi. After landing and leaving the runway the crew deployed the evacuation slides on both the left and right forward doors. The Independent is reporting that some passengers evacuated with hand luggage.
Video footage sourced from Youtube does confirm this. In the short clip, some passengers can be clearly seen exiting down the slides carrying hand luggage. It also appears that passengers were slow to leave the aircraft.
General safety advice is that hand luggage should be left behind during an emergency evacuation.
AirAsia crew have come under some scrutiny for their handling of emergency situations. Just last month, Simple Flying reported on a situation where oxygen was required on an AirAsia flight between Perth and Denpasar.
There was an emergency descent. In addition to not all oxygen masks deploying, some passengers left their seats, the crew shouted conflicting instructions, and there were reports of a chaotic disembarkation process and panicking crew members.
The outcome was that Australia’s aviation regulator asked AirAsia to improve their safety briefings. AirAsia’s response was that it would “consider” making adjustments to its safety briefings and onboard regime.
The fact that passengers were exiting the aircraft yesterday with hand luggage indicates the airline still has a way to go with controlling passengers in time critical situations.
What the airport and airline had to say
In a statement, Langkawi Airport said ATC received notification from the aircraft that there was a problem at 09:20. A spokesperson said;
“According to Malaysia Airports standard operating procedure, the Airport Fire and Rescue Service puts three fire engines on standby.
At 09:30, the AK9327 plane safely landed accompanied by three AFRS fire engines to the airport apron.”
In response to our inquiries, AirAsia made the following statement to Simple Flying;
“AirAsia confirms that Flight AK9327 bound for Kuala Lumpur from Langkawi today has returned back to Langkawi due to a technical issue.
“The aircraft landed safely at Langkawi International Airport at 9.40am on 30 December and all guests have safely disembarked the aircraft and were provided necessary assistance.
“A replacement flight to Kuala Lumpur was arranged and departed Langkawi at 5.30pm and safely arrived at klia2 at 6.47pm today.
“AirAsia pilots and crew are well-trained to manage technical issues and the set of crew for AK9327 have handled the situation well and in line with standard operating procedures to ensure the safety of all guests onboard.
“The safety of our guests is our utmost priority and we strive to provide as much assistance as possible in these circumstances.”
Passengers were ferried to Kuala Lumpur later yesterday on a different aircraft, arriving 8½ hours late. At the time of writing, the affected aircraft, 9M-AGU remains in Langkawi.