Wed, Aug 19, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Airline punishes pilots for not calling ‘Mayday’

Staff writer, with CNA

The pilots of a Far Eastern Air Transport flight that in May was forced to return to Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) after encountering bad weather in Kinmen have been disciplined for not calling “Mayday” when their airplane was low on fuel.

The company said that the pilots made the right decision to return to Songshan airport, but the sudden change in wind direction led the airplane to a 15-minute deviation and an extra waste of fuel.

The pilots were each given a demerit, the company said, adding that it would boost training for pilots on fuel consumption.

The company added that the pilots did not issue a call for help because their airplane had been given priority to land and were already preparing to land.

The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) yesterday said it would hold a meeting to determine how to discipline the pilots, who were grounded after the incident pending action by the regulator.

“There are not that many pilots who are so gutsy. It was a mistake that should not have been made,” CAA flight standards division director Clark Lin (林俊良) said.

Lin said it is extremely rare for pilots not to call “Mayday” when their airplane is running so low on fuel.

Far Eastern Air Flight FE061 took off from Songshan airport bound for Kinmen on May 30 at 9:54am.

On the way, it circled over the Penghu Islands for nearly 30 minutes at the instruction of air traffic controllers at Kinmen Airport, because of bad weather, and then had to abort an attempted landing because of poor visibility.

The pilots decided to return to Songshan airport and landed without incident.

However, during an inspection afterward, ground crew found only 2,000 pounds (1,137 liters) of fuel left, far less than the 3,700-pound (2,103 liters) safety reserve requirement.

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