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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ch'aputo (差不多) Airlines

It isn't difficult to take potshots or poke fun at Taiwan's state air carrier, China Airlines 中華航空. According to its Wikipedia entry, the company has 6.44 fatal events per million flights, compared with a worldwide average of less than 2.0. The most recent incident occurred on August 20, 2007 at Naha Airport 那覇空港 in Okinawa 沖縄 when Flight 120 caught fire shortly after landing 中華航空120號班機事故/ チャイナエアライン120便炎上事故. You can read about the incident here, and watch the video below:

It was fortunate that there were no deaths. Now, a little over two years later, the Japan Times ジャパンタイムズ is running a Kyōdō News 共同通信社 article on the final report into the accident ("China Air fire yields new rules for repairs"):

"The Japan Transport Safety Board 運輸安全委員会 plans to issue a safety recommendation to the U.S. aviation administration over a Boeing aircraft explosion in Okinawa in 2007, saying the manufacturer failed to warn airlines about preventing the maintenance error that caused the accident...A similar recommendation is planned for the Taiwan aviation administration because Japan's safety board believes China Air also did not formulate sufficient maintenance instruction manuals to prevent errors...In its final report on the accident to be released as early as this week, the board will say the explosion of the China Air jetliner at Naha airport was caused by a bolt that detached from an assembly on the right wing and pierced a fuel tank, causing fuel to gush through the hole and catch fire. The board has also concluded the Taiwanese carrier failed to put a washer on the bolt during maintenance a month before the accident, while Boeing failed to notify airlines of the dangers of forgetting the washers."

Whether or not the people running China Airlines act on these suggestions is a good question. I've flown on the airline on a couple of occasions and actually enjoyed the flights, but that safety record is worrisome. On the other hand, EVA Air 長榮航空 has a spotless safety record (so far) when it comes to crashes and deaths, so hopefully all is not "almost is close enough" in Taiwan's aviation industry.

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