CAA chief: Air leak but no sabotage found on Mahathir jet

On Saturday Dr Mahathir had suggested that political enemies might try to prevent him from standing for election.

PETALING JAYA: The Civil Aviation Authority has dismissed Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s complaint of attempted sabotage of a private jet he was to have used on Saturday. The CAA said there was only an air leakage at the aircraft’s nose wheel.

CAA chairman Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said it was “a minor and routine technical fault”.

Yesterday, FMT reported that Dr Mahathir’s arrival in Langkawi had been delayed for three hours by a tyre puncture. He said he had been told of the problem on arrival at Subang airport and he had “borrowed a friend’s plane” to fly to the island.

Other media reports, however, quoted him as saying that he had complained of an attempted sabotage of the plane, and that the plane could have crashed.

Azharuddin said in a statement today: “Allegations of sabotage against an aircraft are extremely serious and could impact the reputation of Malaysian aviation and the country as a whole, especially in this sensitive general election period.

“It is morally wrong to make such wild and false allegations for the sake of political gain.”

He said Mahathir was to have flown on a Bombardier Challenger CL60 with the tail number 9H-VFD operated by Vista Jet Limited.

The CAA “conducted a thorough investigation, including a verification of the aircraft documentation, physical inspection of the aircraft, and interviews with the pilots and maintenance personnel of Tun Mahathir’s private aircraft,” he said.

“The aircraft’s documentation found that there was no recent reported defect except for air leakage from the left hand nose wheel, which was logged on 27th April 2018.” This was confirmed by a CAA inspection today.

He said the tyre could not be replaced because spares were not available.

After Mahathir’s allegation made headlines yesterday, transport minister Liow Tiong Lai ordered civil aviation officals to begin an immediate investigation. He said the aircraft owner and pilot would be asked for their statements. No report had been made by the pilot, he said.

This morning, home minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he was awaiting reports from the Kedah state police chief and Langkawi district police chief on whether there was any criminal activity regarding the aircraft.

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