Thu, Jan 13, 2005 - Page 4 News List

CAA blames bad weather for slides at four airports

By Wang Hsiao-wen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Amid a barrage of criticism on the maintenance of the nation's airports, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) yesterday said that bad weather -- and not poorly maintained runways -- were responsible for five accidents at domestic airports within four years.

"We test the pavement in Taipei's Sungshan Airport every month," said CAA Director-General Billy Chang (張國政). "Once the surface friction is below international standards, we issue a report and mend the runway immediately."

Chang's comment came a day after the Aviation Safety Council published their survey and identified five accidents in which aircraft skidded across runways. The accidents occurred at the Chiayi Airport (嘉義機場) in 2000, the Kinmen Airport (金門機場) in 2003, Taipei's Sungshan Airport last year, and two at Kaohsiung's Hsiaokang International Airport (小港機場) in 2000 and last year, respectively.

"Among the nation's 18 airports, only the CKS International Airport meets the standards laid out by the International Civil Aviation Organization," said Kay Yong (戎凱), the council's chairman.

But the CAA refuted the council's report as one-sided, and said it neglected multiple factors involved in each case.

"For instance, the plane skidded out of track at Sungshan Airport because it landed in heavy rain and strong wind. The council shouldn't underestimate the weather's influence," Chang said.

For three other cases, the CAA explained that they applied the Surface Friction Tester, an internationally recognized piece of Swedish-made equipment, to assess the slipperiness of the runways at Hsiaokang International Airport once every fortnight. For larger domestic airports, another piece of equipment, the British-made Grip Tester, is used to test the skid resistance every three months, the CAA said.

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