A pilot and a co-pilot of Far Eastern Air Transport (FAT) were each fined NT$60,000 (US$2,000) for failing to follow standard operating procedures in landing an aircraft on May 19, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said yesterday.
The results from the CAA’s investigation showed that the flight carried six passengers — the pilot, co-pilot and four cabin crew — and was scheduled to depart from Taipei International Airport (Songshan) and arrive in Magong Airport in Penghu.
According to the CAA, the clouds were low when the aircraft landed in Magong, making the runway invisible to the pilots.
While other airlines turned their flights around, FAT took a risk and managed to land at Magong airport despite treacherous weather conditions, it said.
Chang Ling-ti (張羚悌), a CAA flight standard section chief, said that the pilot admitted he was simply trying to see if he could land the aircraft without having to turn around, which was very risky.
“The runway in Magong was under renovation. There was a risk if you tried to land under a tailwind,” Chang said. “Because the runway in Magong is short and wet, the aircraft could have overshot the runway by attempting a tailwind landing.”
In response, FAT said that the company had punished the pilot and the co-pilot and would reinforce training on aviation regulations.
The incident was not the first time that the airline was cited by the CAA. Agency records showed that the airline has been fined six times for a total of NT$12 million for failing to maintain sufficient operational funds.
The debt-ridden airline managed to resume flight services about two years ago. Based on its financial restructuring plan approved by the court, the company was supposed to keep at least NT$150 million in operating funds per month.
Due to the failure to maintain sufficient funds for operation, the airline had been asked to reduce its number of flights since June. The CAA is seeking more aggressive measures to compel the airline to follow regulations.
Aside from the incident in May, the airline also had three recorded aviation incidents in May, placing the airline under the agency’s close safety watch.