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Saturday, March 1, 2008

In the news ニュース

For those of us leery of flying with Taiwan's national carrier, China Airlines チャイナエアライン, due to its less-than-stellar safety record, this article in Friday's Japan Times ジャパンタイムズ ("Airbus again cleared in '94 Nagoya 名古屋 crash" http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080229a3.html) will only reconfirm our suspicions:

"The Nagoya High Court 名古屋高等裁判所 dismissed an appeal Thursday in which the offspring of a couple who died in a 1994 China Airlines plane crash at Nagoya airport 中華航空140便墜落事故 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Airlines_Flight_140) had demanded that not only the carrier but also the jetliner's maker, Airbus S.A.S. エアバス, be held liable for damages. Upholding a 2003 lower court decision, the high court ordered the Taiwanese carrier to pay some ¥98 million in compensation to Kazuyo Hakamata, 51, and her brother, Hiroshi Aozawa, 49, while exempting Airbus from responsibility. The Nagoya District Court ruled in December 2003 that the crash, which claimed 264 lives, was caused by recklessness on the part of the copilot of the Airbus A300-600R. But the court rejected the plaintiffs' argument that there were defects in the airplane's autopilot and warning systems. Presiding Judge Koji Okahisa of the high court said operational errors were the chief cause of the crash and concluded the aircraft could not be called defective."

In the initial lawsuit, China Airlines was ordered to pay ¥5 billion to 232 people, an amount that greatly exceeded the limits of the Warsaw Convention ワルソー条約 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsaw_convention), which regulates the liability of airlines involved in accidents. The court:

"...determined serious misconduct by the airline caused the crash...(according to a transport ministry 運輸省 report) the pilot and copilot made a series of operational errors leading up to the April 26, 1994, crash, including mistakenly aborting a landing approach but then attempting to land manually while the autopilot was in abort mode."

A group of 29 people appealed the first ruling, but all, except the two plaintiffs in this case, settled with China Airlines for compensation in April 2007, and dropped all claims against Airbus.

According to the article:

"China Airlines said it humbly accepts (Thursday's) ruling and added it will prioritize aviation safety."

Considering what happened as recently as last August (チャイナエアライン(中華航空)120便炎上事故 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Airlines_Flight_120), I still have my doubts.

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