CAL flight incident caused by pilots’ error in reading radar

The China Post news staff

Pilots’ failure to accurately use radar was to blame for an incident involving a China Airlines (CAL) flight bound for the Indonesian island of Bali two years ago that injured 24 passengers and cabin crew, according to an investigative report issued Friday by the Cabinet-level Aviation Safety Council (ASC).

The report showed that the two pilots of flight CI-687 that departed for Bali from the Taiwan Taoyuan International airport at 9:34 a.m. on Sept. 20, 2008, were found responsible for flying the Boeing 747-400 plane into powerful turbulence over the South China Sea at 11:27 a.m. after misreading the plane’s meteorological radar. Although the plane landed at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport at 2:30 p.m., the cabin chief and one passenger sustained serious injuries in the incident, and three other cabin crew and 19 passengers were slightly injured. The injuries, the ASC report indicated, were due mainly to cabin crew and passengers failing to fasten their seat belts in time after the plane encountered powerful turbulence and the lack of clearly-defined standard procedures for cabin crew to follow in handling turbulence. The ASC proposed in the report that to improve flight safety, all pilots should acquaint themselves with the meteorological radar operation guidebook, and clearly-defined standard procedures should be worked out for pilots and cabin crew to follow in dealing with turbulence.

The ASC also suggested that the Civil Aeronautics Administration reinforce its checks of cabin operations for all local airlines, including reinforcing calls for passengers to fasten seat belts.

The ASC is an independent government agency established to investigate and prevent the re-occurrence of civilian air incidents and accidents.