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Poor weather may have caused crash of cloud seeding aircraft

 Following a plane crash in Kanchanaburi on September 24 in which two pilots were killed, the Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation (DRRAA) has released a statement saying that sudden changes in weather conditions may have been the cause of the accident, stressing that the aircraft had been regularly maintained.

DRRAA Director-General Surasi Kittimonthon made the announcement on the progress of investigations into the crash in Sai Yok district of Kanchanaburi province. The flight crew who lost their lives were instructor Trin Amranand and trainee pilot Suksan Sathientham.

The investigative team, comprised of pilots, aircraft technicians, and aviation medical examiners, found that the aircraft on the day of the accident was engaged in routine training, involving taking off and landing practice, as well as in-flight maneuvers in a normal flight pattern. The team is in the process of looking for evidence of any technical failure which may have contributed to the accident by analyzing aircraft debris, flight paths, and pilot operations, which is expected to take 45 days. The investigative team may invite experts from the aircraft’s manufacturer to join the investigation.

A flight unit controller, who is a member of the investigative team, said pilots are required to inspect their aircraft and check weather conditions prior to a flight, adding that there is always a possibility that weather conditions may suddenly change, with fog and clouds obstructing visibility causing difficulties in navigating the aircraft. The accident happened an hour after take-off. However further investigation is still required to reach any conclusion.

The DRRAA has confirmed the accident wasn’t caused by a miscalculation of the weather conditions or the number of new pilots in training, stressing that training protocols follow standard practice, and that the department’s aircraft receive maintenance after every 100 hours of flight.

The department’s officials will continue to fulfill their rainmaking duties to help the general public despite this accident.