Tue, May 09, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Chen's flight broke rules, CAA says

TOO MANY HOURSThe head of the Civil Aeronautics Administration said that the president's 37-hour flight exceeded a 14-hour working day limit for flight crews

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) 37-hour flight from Taiwan to Paraguay violated aviation safety rules in terms of limits on crew flying hours, the head of the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said yesterday.

CAA Director Chang Kuo-Cheng (張國政) said the administration would demand Chen's China Airlines flight abide by the appropriate regulations during its return trip.

Chang made the remarks at a meeting of the legislature's Transportation Committee when questioned by People First Party (PFP) Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞).

"The 37-hour long flight really gripped people with fear and deep concern. Shouldn't aviation safety be the top priority for the president and the airline?" Lee said.

A decision to reject a US offer of a transit stop in Anchorage, Alaska, followed by Beirut's decision to not allow the president to land in Lebanon, meant that Chen took 37 hours and made transit stops in Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam before arriving in Paraguay.

"In accordance with the regulations, the crew on board the airplane are required to rest on the ground and the longest working day allowed is 14 hours," Chang said.

Chang added, "I am pretty sure that there was more than enough work for three sets of crews, but the total flying hours contravened the regulations."

He also said that the situation had been caused by "unpredictable factors," as the route of the president's flight was changed at the last moment.

Before the committee meeting, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislators Tsao Shou-min (曹壽民) and Tsao Erh-chang (曹爾忠) told a press conference that China Airlines should be asked to take responsibility for the violations.

Chang said that they would review the matter after the plane returns to Taiwan.

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