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Singapore keeps Australian terror scare pilot

รายละเอียด

An Australian pilot who flew a light plane into Singapore's air space without permission has been
refused a request to return to Australia ahead of his next court appearance.

Singapore scrambled F-16 fighter jets to intercept a Cessna 208 after tracking the plane's approach
to Singapore and discovering it had no approved flight plan on January 22.

The Australian-registered Cessna was then escorted to land at Singapore's Changi Airport.

Commercial air space over the busy airport was locked down for 50 minutes, forcing at least 16
aircraft to circle, delaying arrivals and departures, and costing airlines thousands of dollars in
fuel.

Two Australian men on board the plane had been flying it from Thailand to Australia via Singapore.

The pilot, Rhys Thomas, was charged with flying an aircraft without a certificate of airworthiness
and was granted bail.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said the former
Ansett pilot was due to appear at a pre-trial conference on Friday and had made a request to return
to Australia temporarily on compassionate grounds.

The request was supported by the Australian government but rejected by Singapore, the spokeswoman
said.

"The request was considered by the Singapore judicial authorities, but was denied," she
said.

Thomas faces a maximum penalty of one year's jail, a $A3900 fine or both.

The passenger in the Cessna was not charged with any offence and was allowed to leave Singapore.

The Cessna 208 Caravan float plane, which can land on water, was recently bought by Mary Cummins,
who co-owns the Broome-based Horizontal Falls Travel Adventure business with Thomas.

The company offers tourists air and sea tours of the remote waterfalls and gorges along the rugged
Kimberley coast.

Staff at the business' Broome office today said Ms Cummins was not available for comment.

The Cessna, which can carry about a dozen people, had previously been flown by an airline in Koh
Samui, in southern Thailand.

The last time Singapore's air force scrambled its jets was in August 2003, when two Super Skyhawk
warplanes intercepted a civilian plane that tried to land at Tengah Air Base.

AAP

โดย : AJ IP : 202.122.130.31 [ 08/03/2008 , 06:41:35 ]

ความคิดเห็นที่ : 1

Singapore terror scare cover-up claim


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An Australian aboard a plane intercepted by fighter jets in Singapore says the dramatic incident was
the result of lies told by someone in Thailand angry at being denied a bribe.

Singapore scrambled F-16 fighter jets to intercept a Cessna 208, flown by Broome pilot Rhys Thomas,
on January 22, saying it had not registered a flight plan.

The Australian-registered Cessna, en route from Thailand to Australia, was then escorted to land at
Singapore's Changi Airport.

Commercial airspace over the airport was locked down for 50 minutes, forcing at least 16 aircraft to
circle, delaying arrivals and departures and costing airlines thousands of dollars in fuel.

Mr Thomas was charged with flying an aircraft without a certificate of airworthiness and was granted
bail.

His passenger, Darren Johnson, an engineer for Horizontal Falls Adventure Tours in the Kimberley,
said the real facts of the matter had been covered up.

"The real reason our aircraft was assessed as a security threat by Singapore is that someone
deliberately made false statements about our aircraft to Singapore authorities whilst we were in
flight," Mr Johnson said.

"These included (that the) aircraft was stolen, (the) aircraft was not registered and (the)
aircraft had left Thai airspace under suspicious circumstances.

"Someone was angry with Mr Thomas because he refused to pay bribes in Thailand.

"I witnessed bribes being asked by two Thai individuals at the time of settlement of the
purchase of the aircraft at Koh Samui on January 21."

Mr Johnson said that the next day, January 22, Mr Thomas decided to divert to Singapore after the
plane developed a landing gear problem while doing an authorised test run to Koh Samui, an island in
southern Thailand.

He said Mr Thomas notified Singaporean authorities of the flight plan by radio, which was accepted
and the plane cleared by Singapore to land at Seletar airport.

The aircraft, however, was intercepted by fighter jets over Singapore and escorted to land at
Changi.

Mr Johnson said the next day it was reported that Singapore had no flight plan or details of the
flight, that the plane had tried to intrude into Singapore airspace without a clearance and was in
no radio contact.

Singapore authorities acted appropriately in scrambling their jets in response to the false
information they received, Mr Johnson said.

"Given the ... information, the Singapore Air Force acted appropriately and professionally and
we are very lucky not to have been shot down," he said.

Mr Johnson arrived back in Perth last Sunday but Mr Thomas remains in Singapore after being refused
permission to return to Australia on compassionate grounds, after his mother suffered a heart
attack.

Mr Thomas, who is 59, was due to appear at a pre-trial conference today and faces a maximum penalty
of one year's jail, a $3900 fine or both.

Mr Johnson was released without charge.

He said he was concerned about Mr Thomas, who was under a large amount of stress.

AAP

โดย : AJ IP : 202.122.130.31 [ 08/03/2008 , 06:42:30 ]



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