Sat, Nov 18, 2006 - Page 2 News List

FAT pilot puts blame for S Korea mishap on air traffic control

STAFF WRITER , WITH AP

Chen Szu-han, the pilot of Far Eastern Air Transport flight FE306 talks to the press yesterday about the near mid-air collision over South Korea on Thursday as he arrives in Taiwan.

PHOTO: CHU PEI-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The pilot of a Taiwanese aircraft involved in a near mid-air collision over South Korea said yesterday air-traffic controllers never warned him about the presence of another plane.

A Far Eastern Air Transport (FAT) flight from Taipei to the South Korean island of Jeju plunged 1,200m to avoid a collision on Thursday, injuring 21 people.

Arriving back in Taiwan on Friday, pilot Chen Szu-han (陳思漢) told reporters that South Korean air controllers didn't warn him about another aircraft, thought to be a Thai Airways flight from Seoul to Bangkok, that was coming directly toward his plane.

"When I raised my head, I saw a plane approaching rapidly, so I had to take action fast," he said.

Far Eastern Air officials said the plane descended 1,200m from a height of 10,300m in about 15 seconds.

After he told air controllers about the incident, he received no explanation, Chen said.

FAT spokesman Chang Yu-peng (張有朋) said yesterday that Korean air controllers had failed to respond promptly to the Taiwanese pilot's inquiries after the plane's alarm was triggered by the oncoming airliner.

He also rejected earlier statements that air turbulence caused his plane's abrupt descent.

The Taiwanese flight was carrying 129 passengers and eight crew members, the airline said.

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