Tue, Feb 06, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Tower staff averted airline collision at Taoyuan, CAA says

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Control tower personnel at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport averted a collision between two airliners on Sunday afternoon by following standard emergency procedure, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said yesterday.

The administration issued a statement after the Chinese-language daily China Times yesterday reported passenger accounts describing a near collision between aircraft from China Airlines and Japan Airlines.

Passengers had said that a landing China Airlines airplane, later identified as flight CI682, flew just 200m above a Japan Airlines aircraft, flight EG206, which was waiting to take off, the paper reported.

The China Airlines airliner then retracted its landing gear and began gaining altitude, the China Times reported.

"When the control tower personnel realized that there was not enough distance between the two airplanes, they immediately told the Japan Airlines pilots to cancel their departure, and asked the China Airlines aircraft to circle," CAA deputy director Wang Te-he (王德和) said.

A preliminary investigation showed that by 3:05pm on Sunday, flight CI682 was 15 nautical miles (28km) from Runway No. 5. As control tower personnel calculated that this distance allowed sufficient time to slot in another takeoff, they cleared EG206 to depart from the same runway.

However, by the time CI682 was 11km from the runway, EG206 had not yet departed, and the control tower canceled the Japan Airlines flight's permission to take off.

The CAA said that the two airplanes had been at least 10km apart when the incident occurred, which is considered a safe distance by flight safety standards.

Hsiung Kuang-yung (熊光榕), director of the CAA's air navigation and weather services, said yesterday that a safe distance between two aircraft in flight was considered to be at least 5.6km horizontally and 1km vertically.

The safe distance between a landing airplane and a departing plane is more than this, and is calculated based on the airplane models, weather conditions and temperature.

"The control tower applied appropriate measures under the circumstances," Hsiung said.

Meanwhile, the administration will investigate why the pilot of flight EG206 delayed his takeoff, Hsiung added.

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