Fri, Mar 13, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Minister urged to tighten safety after plane crashes

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Transportation and Communications Chen Chien-yu, left, and Civil Aeronautics Administration Director-General Lin Tyh-ming attend a question and answer session at the legislature in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Minister of Transportation and Communications Chen Jian-yu (陳建宇) yesterday said that the ministry is seeking the approval of the Executive Yuan to increase the number of aviation safety inspectors in view of two recent plane crashes that led to severe casualties.

Chen and Aviation Safety Council Chairman Chang Yu-hern (張有恆) attended a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee in which they faced questions from lawmakers on China’s proposed M503 aviation route and two crashes involving aircraft operated by TransAsia Airways (復興航空).

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said that the government’s policy accounts for approximately 60 percent of the evaluation for assignment of new flight routes to civil carriers, but their aviation safety record accounts for only 20 percent of the evaluation.

He said that the percentage assigned to this particular category is so low that no airline is serious about addressing safety issues.

Lee suggested that an airline not be assigned any new flight route for three years if the carrier has had a plane crash within a year of the assignment taking place.

Currently, a carrier only has to sit out the assignment of the new aviation routes for a year.

Meanwhile, Lee said that the number of flights in Taiwan has increased by 17 percent in the past five years, but there is a 3 percent shortage of safety inspectors, with many of the inspectors being contractors.

“The two TransAsia Airways crashes show that the airline has failed to provide adequate training to its pilots, who may be overworked as well,” Lee said. “The Civil Aeronautics Administration should revise the regulations to address these issues, or it will become an accomplice in these crimes.”

Chen said the Ministry of Labor has begun a series of extensive interviews with airlines to investigative the working conditions of pilots and a report is scheduled to be released at the end of this month.

He said that the ministry has requested permission to increase the number of aviation safety inspectors. The request is still awaiting the approval of the Executive Yuan, he said.

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