Tue, Oct 24, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Canceled flights not due to hour restriction: CAA

UP IN THE AIR:The limit on flight hours will not apply to Far Eastern Air’s two new aircraft, the fare scheme for which has been submitted pending approval this month

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Far Eastern Air Transport chairman Chang Kang-wei bows during a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) yesterday rejected Far Eastern Air Transport’s (FAT) claim that its abrupt cancelation of flights was due to the agency’s flight hour restriction, while shunning the company’s calls for more hangar space.

The CAA rejected FAT’s proposal that the flight hour restriction imposed on the airline should be lifted, adding that the measure is in place to address potential concerns caused by the airline’s aging fleet.

According to the agency, the airline only has eight MD-80 aircraft, which have been in operation for an average of 22 years.

Since the beginning of the year, the fleet’s age has caused mechanical malfunctions that have required flights to turn around in midair or divert to other airports, the agency said, adding that constant flight changes due to malfunctioning aircraft have already affected passengers’ interests.

“Our investigation showed that these abnormalities in the airline’s operations have had a lot to do with its aging fleet. The difficulty in locating the right parts for repairs has caused the airline to ground the planes for longer,” it said in a statement.

“To ensure that the airline properly maintains its aircraft, we have since March restricted its monthly flight hours. Its hours are now capped at 1,350 per month,” it said.

The CAA said that the flight hour restriction is imposed on the airline for safety and that the restriction applies to its MD-80 fleet.

The airline has acquired two ATR72-600 aircraft, with one scheduled to begin operations next month, the CAA said.

The other is to begin operations before the end of the year, it said, adding that the flight hour restriction will not apply to the ATR fleet.

The agency said it has also received the airline’s proposed airfare rates for its ATR fleet and is to review the scheme before the end of this month.

Regarding the airline’s complaints that its maintenance hangar is so small that it caused a minor collision of two of its MD-80 aircraft on Tuesday last week, the agency said that the airline’s hangar is the largest among all the carriers at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport), with an area of 3,329m2.

The government has never withdrawn any airport property used by the airline, it added.

“We have received the company’s report on the minor collision and asked them to thoroughly follow its own standardized operating procedures in the maintenance and deployment of aircraft,” it said.

The agency also confirmed that the airline’s number of canceled flights in August and last month exceeded aviation regulation standards, even after taking into account the airline’s flight hour restriction, and as such could be fined for violating the Civil Aviation Act (民用航空法).

Responding to the airline’s claim that the agency always approves its flight schedule late, the CAA said that it only happens when information is missing or the flight hours exceeded the monthly cap.

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