Bang fai rockets 'need regulating'
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Bang fai rockets 'need regulating'

The Transport Ministry will ask the Interior Ministry to better regulate the launching of bang fai rockets -- fiery handmade projectiles -- following an aircraft pilot's report of having spotted one at 6,000 feet (1,828 metres) without any advance warning.

Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said provincial authorities and local administration bodies where the Bun Bang Fai festival is organised will be asked to enhance safety measures for the festival's rocket launchings as they can pose a danger to aircraft and hurt the country's image.

Mr Suriya said he has ordered agencies to consider enacting a law to enforce control of the rocket festivals to ensure the safety of air transport while also respecting traditional beliefs and the spirit of the festival.

According to a report from the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand on the sightings of flying lanterns and festival rockets, there were 155 such sightings by pilots during 2021-2023.

The launchings should be controlled and advance notifications given so pilots can avoid risk zones, it said.

Atthaya Larpmak, director of Ubon Ratchathani airport, said safety measures are usually observed during the festival which takes place in several northeastern provinces during May-June.

This year, there have been 235 requests to launch 4,267 rockets, with Yasothon province requesting 2,500 launches. Mr Atthaya said random launches are dangerous because airport authorities cannot warn aircraft.

Ubon Ratchathani governor Supasit Korcharoenyot said launch times are restricted to 9am to 5pm. Violators can face up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 60,000 baht.

He said the bang fai rocket spotted recently by the pilot was launched in Si Sa Ket's Kanthrarom district.

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