Starlux Airlines chairman Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒) could be fined for allowing an Internet celebrity to enter the cockpit during a flight to Los Angeles on April 26, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said yesterday.
The aviation authority said that it launched an investigation after it received a report that YouTuber Sam Chui (崔佳星) had posted a picture on Instagram of himself with Chang in the cockpit.
Chang, who is also a pilot, was serving as the captain of that flight.
CAA Flight Standards Division Director Wu Chia-jen (吳家珍) said that a flight is considered to be in operation as soon as cabin crew members are on board.
The company was also criticized for leaving more than 300 Taiwanese passengers stranded at Tokyo Narita International Airport on Saturday night after two of its returning flights to Taipei were delayed by crosswinds.
On Sunday, Chang told reporters that he did not sleep the night before as he caught a red-eye flight to Tokyo to handle the situation.
He later piloted one of the airlines’ A350 aircraft back to Taipei, prompting the agency to launch another investigation, as it suspected that Chang might have operated the aircraft when fatigued or worked overtime.
The aviation authority later combined the two investigations into one, as Chang was involved in both cases.
The company has been asked to provide information about the cases, the agency said, adding that CAA officials would interview Chang for further details.
“We have yet to complete the investigation, but we have ascertained Sam Chui had indeed entered the cockpit” during the flight to Los Angeles, CAA Director-General Lin Kuo-hsien (林國顯) told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee.
The Aircraft Flight Operation Regulations (根據航空器飛航作業管理規則) stipulate that non-cabin crew must obtain permission from the agency before entering the cockpit, but Starlux did not request such permission in advance, Lin said.
“We are investigating whether Chui entered the cockpit during the flight to Los Angeles. If so, Chang and the airline would be fined,” he said.
Chang could face a fine of NT$60,000 if he is found to have contravened the regulations, while the airline could be given a warning or a fine of NT$600,000, he said.
If Chang and the airline are fined, it would be the first penalty that Starlux received since it was founded in 2018.
It would also be the first time in Taiwan’s aviation history that a pilot and an airline are punished for allowing non-cabin crew to enter a cockpit.
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