Far Eastern Air Transport yesterday said it would sue the China Times Weekly magazine for libel over reports that the airline’s aircraft experienced engine failure three times and it did not report them to the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA), adding that it would seek NT$500 million (US$17.2 million) in compensation for financial losses caused by the report.
Defendants in the lawsuit would include China Times Weekly president Hsia Chen (夏珍), managing editor Huang Shu-de (黃樹德), deputy editor-in-chief Lin Chao-hsin (林朝鑫) and several others, the airline said.
The airline said the problems its planes had experienced were in-flight shutdowns (IFSD) and not engine failures, adding that these were two entirely different situations. The shutdowns are a necessary procedure undertaken by the captain to ensure flight safety, whereas engine failures occur because of mechanical errors or other unintentional reasons.
The airline also said it had reported the IFSD incidents to the CAA. However, the magazine said that the company had been covering engine failures up, which was false, the company said.
In a press release last week, the CAA confirmed that the airline had filed reports on all three incidents.
The airline had made improvements to its aircrafts and passed all airworthiness inspections, the CAA said.
The aeronautic administration added that the three incidents had been caused by leaking oil pipes and so it had asked the airline to shorten the intervals between inspections.
Far Eastern Air Transport said the magazine ignored its request for a retraction and that the allegations had severely damaged its reputation. Because of the report, only 50 percent of the seats on its flights during the Lunar New Year period next year had been reserved. The route that was most affected was between Greater Kaohsiung and Makong (馬公) in Penghu, with just 20 percent of the seats on those flights reserved.
In response, the magazine issued a statement in which it stood by its report that the incidents were “engine failures.” It said that the airline’s frequency of such failures was 5.84 times higher than the global average and that the CAA had repeatedly asked the airline to improve the safety of its aircraft. The allegations made in the report were not unfounded and were published with the public’s interests in mind, the magazine said.
“It is regrettable that the airline disregards the facts, ignores public safety and blurs the focus of the issue by filing lawsuits and wasting the legal resources,” the publication said.