A British Aerospace BAE 146/200 operated by AviaStar Jet on route from Kupang – Ende – Labuan Bajo (Komodo) to Bali narrowly averted disaster on Wednesday, September 14, 2011, when it plowed into a herd of cattle grazing on the runway of the Labuan Bajo Komodo Airport in West Flores.
The incident occurred on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. when the aircraft with 44 passengers and 6 crew was confronted with a herd of 20 cows that had wandered onto the runway just as the aircraft was about to land.
The operations manager of TransNusa Air, Yosef Lumben Gaol, based in Kupang, told Kompas.com that he had only praise for the the skills of the plane’s pilot, Herlis Simanjuntak, who expertly maneuvered the landing aircraft that struck three of the grazing cows. The pilot holds an instructor’s certification and was once assigned as pilot for presidential flights.
On this particular flight, Captain Simanjuntak’s passenger manifest included the vice-regent of West Manggarai (West Flores), Maksimum Gasa.
Damage to the aircraft was reportedly limited to the front landing gear of the aircraft. The damage, howver, to the three errant cows was fatal.
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