Air force capability boosted
The completion of a project to upgrade Taiwan’s E-2K early-warning aircraft means that the air force now has enhanced search and surveillance capability, Air Force Commanding General Yen Ming (嚴明) said yesterday. Under the “Hawkeye No. 3” upgrade project, the changes focused on the planes’ radar and engines, Yen said in a press statement. The upgrade will also reduce maintenance costs and the number of working hours needed to repair the aircraft, he said. In addition, four-bladed propellers on the planes were replaced with eight-bladed ones. The US agreed in 2008 to upgrade Taiwan’s four E-2T airborne early-warning aircraft to the E-2K model. The four aircraft were sent to the US in two separate batches in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The first two were returned in 2011 and the others on March 8, the air force said.
Alert raised for Myanmar
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has upgraded its travel alert from “yellow” to “orange” for a city in central Myanmar after recent religious clashes. The ministry urged Taiwanese to avoid unnecessary travel to Meiktila City and to exercise extreme caution if they have to go there. The “orange” alert is the second-highest level in the ministry’s four-color-coded travel advisory system. The clashes that erupted on Wednesday last week in Meiktila between Buddhists and Muslims have resulted in 32 deaths and damage to hundreds of houses and have left tens of thousands homeless. Burmese authorities declared a state of emergency the following day so the military could help restore order.
Drifting vessel found
The coast guard on Wednesday said it found a drifting vessel with 43 Vietnamese stowaways on board off Sinfong Township (新豐), Hsinchu County. A spokesman said the coast guard received a tip-off from local fishermen on Tuesday afternoon that a Chinese-registered ship was drifting about 8 nautical miles (14.8km) off Hsinchu. When the officers arrived at the scene, they found 43 Vietnamese crammed into a small space, looking faint. The spokesman said the boat people they had been abandoned on Sunday, shortly after departing from southeastern China, with little clean water, food or fuel on board. They told investigators that they had paid between 3,000 and 4,000 yuan (US$480 to US$640) each to be transported from China to Taiwan aboard on old fishing boat, but the boat’s owner abandoned them.
Kaohsiung-Tokyo flights eyed
China Airlines (CAL) is considering increasing passenger and cargo flights between Greater Kaohsiung and Tokyo after the Japanese government announced earlier this week that it was lifting restrictions on flights from Taiwan, chairman Sun Huang-hsiang (孫洪祥) said. The airline was not thinking about adding capacity between Taipei and Tokyo because it already had enough scheduled flights to meet demand, but was studying whether service between Greater Kaohsiung and the Japanese capital could be expanded, he said. The airline currently has two Greater Kaohsiung-Tokyo flights a week. Sun said the load factor on the airline’s flights between Taiwan and Japan range from 70 percent to 75 percent and was growing at a stable rate. Flights out of Taipei International Airport (Songshan) are more fully booked than those leaving Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, which are more vulnerable to high and low tourism seasons, he said.