A technician who was arrested on Thursday for allegedly causing a 35-minute power outage at the control tower of Tan Son Nhat Airport is under investigation for breaching violations which led to serious consequences, the police said.
Le Tri Tinh, head of the Southern Air Traffic Management Company’s technological support center, faces the charge of “breaching regulations on maintenance, repair and/or management of traffic works” which leads to “particularly serious consequences,” according to The Ministry of Public Security.
The crime is punishable by jail terms of up to 15 years and an additional fine of VND50 million (US$2,342) under the Penal Code.
Tinh had been suspended since November 23, three days after the blackout at the air control center.
Initial investigation found Tinh was responsible for the incident because he did not follow required procedures in operating the control tower's uninterruptible power supply (UPS) devices.
As a result, dozens of planes could not take off or land at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
Incoming pilots were forced to circle or land at nearby airports while departing flights were delayed by as much as five hours.
Tran Cong, deputy general director of the company's technical department, and Nguyen Quoc Phu, the technological support center's deputy head, were also suspended following the outage.
Transport minister Dinh La Thang said the incident was particularly serious, threatening aviation safety, causing financial damages and discrediting Vietnam’s aviation.
Related agencies are investigating the case further.
According to a report produced by the Vietnam Air Traffic Management Corporation, 40 percent of employees were reviewed as either weak or average and 31 percent of air traffic controllers failed to reach Level 4 of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) English proficiency requirements.
According to ICAO requirements, pilots, air traffic controllers, and all others who use English to communicate on international routes are required to speak Level 4 ICAO English (Operational) or above.