Radar data shows CAL plane flying at irregular speeds

The China Post staff

Radar data provided by Beijing shows that the crashed China Airlines Boeing 747-200 had been flying at irregular speeds before disintegrating in mid-air and plunging into the seas, an opposition lawmaker revealed yesterday. Legislator Mu Min-chu from the Kuomintang and a former colleague flew to Beijing at the weekend to collect radar data provided by the mainland’s Civil Aviation General Administration concerning the CAL crash. At a press conference back in Taipei, Mu quoted mainland experts as backing Taiwan aviation authorities’ theory about the plane breaking up into four pieces in mid-air. According to the mainland’s information, the CAL flight 611 was climbing at a regular speed until 11 minutes before the crash at 318 p.m. on May 25 at seas off Penghu. At 307 p.m., the plane was at 6,070 meters, climbing at 830 kmph. But moments later, at 7,010 meters, its speed had decreased to 819 kmph. At 312 p.m., the plane was flying even more slowly at 752 kmph at 8,630 meters, and then it began to pick up speed gradually to 835 kmph. But at 318 p.m., it was at 10,550 meters at 853 kmph, and then seconds before the crash, it decelerated, and disappeared at 10,600 meters at 31811 p.m.

The latest data helped dismiss rumors that the plane had rolled and climbed 2,000 feet in 12 seconds in before the crash.

Taiwan’s military officials said judging from mainland revelation, the plane’s irregular speeds were indeed unusual, but they declined to speculate on the cause. Legislator Mu later handed over the radar data to Aviation Safety Council (ASC), which is investigating the accident, for further examination. Chou Kuang-tsang, head of the ASC’s accident investigation unit, said they had already asked the mainland aviation authorities to provide more detailed radar data. He said the data the legislator supplied, including one CD ROM and a sheet of paper, was insufficient. The CD ROM was TV recordings of radar screens, and on the paper were the figures concerning the plane’s heights and speeds, Chou said, adding they would not help much in determining the cause of the accident. So far, only 108 bodies of the 225 passengers and crew on board flight 611 have been recovered. All 108 bodies have been identified, officials said. Some of the missing victims are believed to be caught inside the wreckage still underwater. Many saddened families of the missing victims are still waiting on Penghu for news of the latest search. The government has decided that these relatives, if they are civil servants or students, are allowed to take leave of absence from their work or school.