aussie_
Posts: 1600
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2000 10:39 am

First And Last Trip Report Of AN24 XU-U4A -PMT Air

Sat Jun 30, 2007 10:23 am

As I mentioned in the thread in the Civil Aviation Forum relating to the tragic crash of the PMT Air AN-24 last week, the accident had a more poignant and sobering effect on me than an accident usually would.

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles...to-have-crashed-into-mountain.html

Exactly two weeks before, after much difficulty in planning and finally booking and paying for the flight, I myself flew on U4 241 from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville (and the return flight U4 242), operated by AN-24 XU-U4A, the very same aircraft that crashed, killing all on board on 25 June 2007. I am unsure whether the friendly crew on my flight were the same as on the doomed flight, but in my case it was also a Russian pilot and Cambodian crew, so the chances are high. May they all RIP.

I was in Indochina for a total of 4 days, this trip organised exclusively to fly on some of the more unusual aircraft and airlines operating in the region. I will try and post a separate report about some of the other flights, including Pacific Airlines (soon to become the next Jetstar franchise), Lao Airlines and the excellent Bangkok Airways. Getting me to/from Vietnam was the continually-good Jetstar International.

I had flown into Siem Reap the night before on PMT Air’s ancient Hanoi-based 737-242 XU-U4F, of which I can find zero reference anywhere on the internet. After a very pleasant night in a local guest house, it was back to the airport for the domestic flight to Sihanoukville and return on PMT Air’s AN-24. This was to be the aviation highlight of the trip and my first ride on the AN-24. It was even more of a highlight given the more than a month of frustrating email exchanges and phone calls with PMT air to arrange the booking – especially as the schedules and routings of the AN-24 fleet on the days I was available seemed to be constantly changing.

http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o174/apacau/photo060small.jpg
XU-385 the day before on the ramp at Siem Reap with the PMT Air MD-80 in the background.


The Angkor Airways MD-80 on the ramp at Siem Reap


Royal Khmer 737-200 on the ramp at Siem Reap

PMT Air have (had) two active AN-24s in service. On arrival the night before, XU-385 was parked on the ramp alongside a number of other exotic aircraft. However, on arrival the next morning (and being relieved to see the flight was operating as scheduled) and a quick check-in at the small and shabby domestic terminal, I noticed XU-385 was gone and spied the colourfully painted XU-U4A pull into the stand adjacent to the terminal, and it became quickly obvious that this was the aircraft to take me to Sihanoukville and back.


Boarding XU-U4A at Siem Reap

http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o174/apacau/photo073small.jpg
On the ground at Siem Reap

Monday 11 June 2007
Siem Reap (REP) – Sihanoukville (KOS)
PMT Air U4 241
10:00-11:00 (10:00-10:51)
Flying time: 51 mins

13 passengers, 5 crew (18 POB).
Captain: Nikolay (Russian)

Antonov AN-24
XU-U4A
Free seating – sat in 3A (Emergency Exit)


My boarding pass for U4 241 to Sihanoukville (KOS)

http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o174/apacau/photo068small.jpg
The boarding gate

The weather was sunny and fine, a somewhat dicey proposition given the monsoon season was in full swing (as it turns out, weather appears to be a probable cause of the accident two weeks later), and as seemed to be often the case on my flights over those few days, the light load of passengers boarded quickly and we pushed back early.


Looking into the cockpit.

On board were 13 passengers. If I remember correctly we consisted of 7 South Koreans tourists, 2 other Australians apart from myself, and three local Cambodians (one lady and her two children, travelling on their first flight).

http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o174/apacau/photo077small.jpg
Boarding the aircraft.

There were five crew. One Russian pilot, Nikolay (no further information was given to me) was in command with the remaining 4 crew being Cambodian. Our male flight attendant was one of the flight attendants I had had on my 737-200 flight from Hanoi the day before.

With the aircraft sitting in the baking sun on the ground, it was like a sauna inside and I was very soon literally dripping with sweat. It was only after 10 mins or so in flight that the air conditioning systems finally managed to cool things down so as to make the experience more comfortable.

It was free seating, so to get a view into the cockpit, whose door was open when we boarded, I sat further forward than everyone else (you board from the rear) in 3A, also purposely choosing an emergency exit row. I note that despite it being an emergency exit, there certainly was no additional leg room (seating was very tight) and what is more, the emergency exit door was partially blocked by the row in front. It would have been quite difficult to use it. You don’t tend to think too much of these things at the time – it’s very different looking back in hindsight.







http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o174/apacau/photo099small.jpg

The flight was smooth and in reasonably sunny conditions (some cloud). The terrain was initially quite flat and barren but quickly turned into more mountainous forest as we got closer to Sihanoukville.


Takeoff

http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o174/apacau/photo082small.jpg


Hilly terrain and jungle close to Sihanoukville. From reports I have read, this is the type of terrain into which the aircraft crashed two weeks later.



On landing I chatted to the flight attendant and arranged for the ground staff to collect my return boarding pass. They all found it quite amusing that I was doing a return trip simply to experience their AN-24 aircraft. I was met by the airport manager who explained to me that the Sihanoukville Airport had only opened to RPT traffic in January, with 3 weekly flights with the AN-24, but that they were hopeful of growing this and perhaps attracting other airlines to the beach resort town. He was proud to say that they had welcomed around 2000 passengers through the airport since it had opened and that things were looking up for the region since the air service commenced.

http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o174/apacau/photo094small.jpg
Sihanoukville Airport from the tarmac

http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o174/apacau/photo095small.jpg
On the ground at Sihanoukville. You can see most of the crew in this photo.


The boarding gate at Sihanoukville

Monday 11 June 2007
Sihanoukville (KOS) – Siem Reap (REP)
PMT Air U4 242
11:30-12:30 (11:17-12:08)
Flying time: 51 mins

16 passengers, 5 crew (21 POB).
Captain: Nikolay (Russian)

Antonov AN-24
XU-U4A


Boarding U4 242 for the return to Siem Reap

Free seating – sat in 8D (Emergency Exit)

After receiving my return boarding pass, it was very quickly time to go through the rudimentary security screening point and join the new load of passengers for the return flight to Siem Reap. Of course, the same crew of 5 were operating and grinned at me as I reboarded. This time I chose a seat further back, once again at an emergency exit. As all booked passengers had checked in, there was no need to wait, so we pushed back 16 mins before scheduled departure time and took off a couple of minutes later.

The return flight was uneventful. This time the majority of the passengers were South Koreans returning from a few days at the beach. The flight was again smooth, service once again consisted of a plastic cup of either water or coke and a refresher towelette (same as we had on the outbound flight). Being a little tired from the day before, I managed to get a few minutes nap, despite the very tight and somewhat uncomfortable seating.

We landed at Siem Reap on time and deplaned. I thanked the crew for their help and kindness in arranging everything for me, and I made my way back to the terminal.


The Siem Reap ramp on my return from Sihanoukville.

Little did I know, of course, what was to befall the very same aircraft, and quite possibly the same crew, just 14 days later. May they, and the passengers on that fateful flight, rest in peace.
 
EK20
Posts: 869
Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2007 6:31 pm

RE: First And Last Trip Report Of AN24 XU-U4A -PMT Air

Sat Jun 30, 2007 3:28 pm

Thanks for the report. Such a shame.  Sad
 
DALCE
Posts: 1627
Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2007 7:45 pm

RE: First And Last Trip Report Of AN24 XU-U4A -PMT Air

Sat Jun 30, 2007 5:42 pm

An amzing story, even without the information we now know!
It seems a great experience! Thanks for sharing!!!

May the crew and pax of the doomed flight RIP

DALCE
flown: F50,F70,CR1,CR2,CR9,E75,143,AR8,AR1,733,735,736,73G,738,753,744,77W,788,319,320,321,333,AB6.
 
PlaneHunter
Posts: 6518
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:17 am

RE: First And Last Trip Report Of AN24 XU-U4A -PMT

Sat Jun 30, 2007 8:41 pm

Very interesting report, and really sad to hear what happened only two weeks later.

Quoting Aussie_ (Thread starter):
I had flown into Siem Reap the night before on PMT Air’s ancient Hanoi-based 737-242 XU-U4F, of which I can find zero reference anywhere on the internet.

B737-242 (A) XU-U4F (MSN 22074, s/n 619) was built in 1979 and delivered to Nordair in November 1979 as C-GNDM. Following operators:

Quebecair (on lease)
Canadian Int'l (01/87-05/91)
Cayman Airways (06/91-05/95) as VR-CYB
Aviateca Guatemala (09/95-2004) as N127GU
Phoenix Aviation (10/04-01/07) as EX-047
Kam Air (03/05-05/05, 11/05-04/06 on lease from Phoenix) and later as YA-GAC (01/07-05/07)
PMT Air (since 05/07).


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
UK_Dispatcher
Posts: 2254
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2001 8:44 pm

RE: First And Last Trip Report Of AN24 XU-U4A -PMT Air

Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:13 am

An interesting report and pics on an aircraft type which is also on on 'wish-list'.

I was going to suggest that we compare our wish lists and see if there are any trips which would interest both of us on our hunt for rare aircraft types, but with your recent track record I think I'll give you a wide berth  Wink

Thanks for sharing once again.
 
UN_B732
Posts: 3529
Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2001 12:57 am

RE: First And Last Trip Report Of AN24 XU-U4A -PMT Air

Sun Jul 01, 2007 1:05 pm

Wow, I'm surprised that exit isn't a violation of some regulation. May the cerw and pax RIP  Sad

-A
What now?
 
aussie_
Posts: 1600
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2000 10:39 am

RE: First And Last Trip Report Of AN24 XU-U4A -PMT Air

Mon Jul 02, 2007 7:27 am

Thanks for the responses and thanks for the info on XU-U4F - I had suspected (thanks to another source) that it might have been the Kam Air aircraft but couldn't confirm. Certainly a colourful history in some interesting parts of the world!
 
debonair
Posts: 2748
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

RE: First And Last Trip Report Of AN24 XU-U4A -PMT Air

Tue Jul 03, 2007 6:48 pm

Quoting Aussie_ (Thread starter):
I will try and post a separate report about some of the other flights, including Pacific Airlines (soon to become the next Jetstar franchise), Lao Airlines and the excellent Bangkok Airways. Getting me to/from Vietnam was the continually-good Jetstar International.

I am looking forward to the trip-reports, hopefully also one of PMT B737-200 ride... PLEASE!  Silly

Quoting Aussie_ (Thread starter):
XU-385 the day before on the ramp at Siem Reap with the PMT Air MD-80 in the background.

Any registration available?

Quoting Aussie_ (Thread starter):
I note that despite it being an emergency exit, there certainly was no additional leg room (seating was very tight) and what is more, the emergency exit door was partially blocked by the row in front.

well, have a closer l@@k on your pictures, the seats are VERY interesting. They look like a "western"-model...

Compare to those


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Marlo Plate - Iberian Spotters



Normally the seats are much thinner...
 
aussie_
Posts: 1600
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2000 10:39 am

RE: First And Last Trip Report Of AN24 XU-U4A -PMT Air

Wed Jul 04, 2007 9:04 am

Thanks Debonair. The MD-80 was XU-U4D.

You're also right about the seating. It wasn't the thin fold-down russian type but western seats. That's probably why the seat pitch was sooo tight.

I'll see what I can do about a PMT 737-200 report (HAN-REP) - don't have quite so many photos but I should be able to do something when I get some time!!
 
LH648
Posts: 500
Joined: Thu Sep 07, 2006 3:06 pm

RE: First And Last Trip Report Of AN24 XU-U4A -PMT Air

Thu Jul 05, 2007 4:05 am

Pilot of the crashed plane was the same... Nikolay Pavlenko... Citizen of Uzbekistan...

RIP...

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