Sat, Aug 25, 2007 - Page 2 News List

China Airlines denies ignoring warning signal

NOT PAYING ATTENTION? A newspaper report said technicians ignored a warning signal on one of the wings of the Boeing 737-800 that exploded in Okinawa

AFP , TAIPEI

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Chi-fang points yesterday to a photo of the China Airlines Boeing 737-800 airliner that burst into flames in Naha, Okinawa, on Monday. He said the airline should change its name so that passengers would not think it was a Chinese company.

PHOTO: LO PEI-DER, TAIPEI TIMES

China Airlines yesterday denied a report that it had ignored warning signals about a plane that burst into flames in Japan this week with 165 people on board.

The Chinese-language China Times had reported that a warning signal for one wing had appeared for two consecutive days but that the airline had simply replaced a sensor to "solve" the problem.

The report said the company ignored the warnings, which eventually led to the blaze on the runway in Okinawa.

All 165 passengers and crew escaped to safety, sliding down emergency chutes with just moments to spare.

China Airlines spokesman Johnson Sun (孫鴻文) dismissed the report, saying the two incidents were not related.

Investigators in Japan said they had found a hole in the fuel tank of the plane that could explain the blaze. It is believed the hole was made by a bolt that came loose from a movable flap on the front of the right wing. Investigators did not know why the bolt came loose, Japanese media reports said.

"On Aug. 4 and Aug, 5 there were [warning] signals on the No. 1 left slat. We replaced the sensor following an inspection and after that everything was normal," Sun, the airline's spokesman, told reporters.

Japan's Jiji Press reported that Boeing had issued a warning to airlines last year to check for bolts piercing fuel tanks.

China Airlines has reported nine fatal accidents since 1970.

The airline launched a safety overhaul after an accident in Taipei in February 1998 killed 196 passengers and crew and six people on the ground.

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