Fri, Jun 17, 2016 - Page 3 News List

CAA and airlines to shoulder aviation safety

URGENT ISSUES:Taiwan’s aviation crash record is higher than the global average, a report shows, as regulators push for training and aircraft upgrades to improve safety

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) and the nation’s airline companies are to be held accountable for the deterioration of aviation safety records, according to a report by the Aviation Safety Council (ASC).

The report was unveiled at yesterday’s meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, during which ASC Chairperson Hwung Hweng-hwung (黃煌煇) briefed lawmakers on the council’s progress in its investigation into the causes of aviation incidents and aviation safety research.

According to the report, the average hull loss — an accident that damages an aircraft beyond economic repair — occurrence rate for commercial planes decreased from 3.18 times per million departures 10 years ago to 0.58 times per million departures this year.

Although the 10-year moving hull loss occurrence rate for turboprop airplanes was zero between 2004 and 2013, it rose to 3.09 times per million departures because of the TransAsia Airways Flight 222 crash in Penghu in July 2014 and the TransAsia Airways Flight 235 crash in Taipei last year.

The rate is higher than the global average, the report showed.

The council has suggested several measures to improve the nation’s aviation safety record.

Aside from improving airport facilities, the council suggested simplified flight data recorders be installed in some older aircraft not already equipped with such devices.

The council also said that there were eight incidents in the past five years involving aircraft overrunning the runway. To address the problem, the nation’s airline companies need to train pilots regarding procedures when an aircraft needs to circle, it said.

The CAA should have a safety-management system in place, the council said.

When questioned by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) on how the CAA has been implementing the changes recommended by the ASC, Hwung said that the agency is not mandated to enforce ASC’s suggestions to improve aviation safety, except special projects overseen by the Executive Yuan.

CAA Director-General Lin Tyh-ming (林志明) said that it had addressed some of the urgent safety issues facing the nation’s airlines, adding that issues need to be completed in phases.

DPP legislators Cheng Pao-ching (鄭寶清) and Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said that people should not just think of the ASC as an agency investigating the causes of air crashes.

They said that human error and technical problems are the two main factors involved in airplane crashes in Taiwan, with percentages higher than the global average.

The ASC should prevent incidents and stipulate aviation safety policies, they said.

DPP Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) pointed to the shortage of flight safety inspectors in the CAA.

He said that the number of aircraft owned by domestic flight carriers has increased by 47 percent over the past six years.

Domestic flights and domestic flight passengers have increased by 30 percent each, but the CAA only has 57 flight safety inspectors, Lee added.

Lee said that not many pilots or airlines are willing to voluntarily file reports with the ASC’s confidential aviation safety report system, adding that they were afraid that the reports would destroy careers or hurt the airline’s public image.

The council should offer more incentives for more pilots and airlines to do so, he added.

People First Party (PFP) Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said he is concerned that a China Airlines industrial dispute could compromise aviation safety, adding that the CAA should intervene on safety grounds.

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