Tue, Jul 13, 2010 - Page 2 News List

CAL denies that captain flew plane that leaked oil


China Airlines (CAL), the nation’s largest air carrier, denied a news report yesterday that one of its former captains, who has since left the company, once flew a Boeing 737-800 back to Taiwan from Bali, Indonesia, in late 2008 with the aircraft leaking oil.

CAL spokesman Hamilton Liu (劉國芊) said the Boeing 737-800 cargo/passenger plane, flight number B-18609, was in good condition when it was flown from Taiwan to Bali in November 2008, as the aircraft had just had a maintenance check a few days earlier.

After the captain re-started the plane in Bali and was getting ready for the return flight, he found that a fuel tank in the right wing was experiencing slight seepage. He then asked for repairs by a CAL mechanical service team posted in Bali, Liu said.

It was midnight by the time the seepage was fixed and flight safety papers were signed by both the service team and the captain, allowing the plane to depart Bali, he said.

The spokesman made the remarks in response to a front-page report in the Chinese-language Apple Daily, which said CAL instructed the captain to fly the aircraft back to Taiwan the same day despite the oil leak after learning that the required spare parts were unavailable in Bali.

Fourteen passengers aboard the return flight were also told to study the emergency exit and to take part in an exercise during the flight, which the daily said “scared them to death.”

The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA), which oversees CAL operations, said yesterday that the CAL captain was not technically wrong to fly the plane back to Taiwan the same day after the seepage problem was fixed.

However, the CAA Flight Standards Division said the captain and crew were found to have violated flight safety standards by restarting the plane after repairs without obtaining written permission from the head office.

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