The Vietnam Air Traffic Management Corporation has suspended three high-ranking officials pending the results of its investigation into last Thursday's 90-minute blackout at Tan Son Nhat Airport's air traffic control tower.
Starting Sunday, 15-day suspensions will go into effect for Tran Cong, deputy general director of the Southern Air Traffic Management Company's technical department, Le Van Tinh, head of the company’s technological support center, and Nguyen Quoc Phu, the center's deputy Director.
Investigators will recommend punishments for the officials after determining the role they played in the blackout at the Ho Chi Minh Area Control Center at 11:11AM on November 20.
The incident affected nearly 100 flights at Ho Chi Minh City’s international airport.
On Friday, the Southern Air Traffic Management also suspended Le Tri Tinh and Pham Van Dung, two technicians who had been charged with monitoring the center's power supply that day.
Following the loss of power, an emergency back-up plan went into effect for the first time in the country’s aviation history wherein 54 aircraft in Ho Chi Minh City’s Flight Information Region were directed from Hanoi.
Incoming pilots were forced to circle or land at nearby airports and many flights at Tan Son Nhat had to delay taking off by up to several hours.
A woman waits for a French passenger to arrive from Doha at Tan Son Nhat Airport. The flight was scheduled to arrived at 12:15PM, but only showed up five hours later due to a blackout at the airport's area control center on November 20, 2014. Photo: Mai Vong
The issue was resolved at 12:40PM, when normal operations resumed.
The blackout stemmed from a malfunction in the center’s uninterruptible power supply devices, which are supposed to provide near instantaneous backup power in the event of a blackout, director Lai Xuan Thanh of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam told Tuoi Tre upon arriving in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday to investigate the kerfuffle.
No estimates on the total cost of the power outage to airlines and passengers has yet been released.
The final results of the investigation are expected this Saturday.