View Full Version : China Airlines punishes its "Alaska taxiway" pilots

19th Aug 2002, 13:24
Associated Press reports(19/8):

"After months of investigation, authorities on Monday ordered three China Airlines pilots to be grounded for mistakenly taking off from a taxiway instead of the runway at an airport in Alaska.
A China Airlines Airbus 340 carrying about 250 passengers and crew took off from a taxiway in the wrong direction at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in January.

The airplane's wheels scraped a snow berm while lifting off at the end of the taxiway. Air traffic controllers said they didn't try to stop the aircraft because they feared it was going too fast.

Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration has ordered the pilot and the captain grounded for eight months and the co-pilot seven months for the error, said director Billy Chang.

China Airlines, Taiwan's largest airline, had suspended the pilots from flying since the incident pending results of the investigation, officials said.

The airline has also ordered all its pilots to reconfirm with controllers that they are on the right runway before taking off, they said."

23rd Aug 2002, 05:35
Well, since they can't (for the time being) carry the proverbial rubber dog poop outta Taiwan...maybe they can get a job in Alaska flying the mail and baby formula to Barrow.


Freak On A Leash
23rd Aug 2002, 11:05
They`ll probably just get a smack on the fingers and you`ll see them again next week:D

I think it was an A330, but that doesn`t really matter if it`s computer believes it`s on the runway... and the pilots blindly follow it`s instructions."Ahhh they must have changed the runway lights in Alaska"!

Zerozero, I can think of a lot worse places in Alaska than Barrow...
Btw, I heard that Cape Smythe Air in Barrow is looking for a pilot...

23rd Aug 2002, 14:46
Freak on a Leash,

The aircraft type has no bearing whatsoever on the fact that this crew, for whatever reason, took off from a taxiway. No aircraft in the world issues "instructions" to pilots on when to takeoff. I cannot speak for other types, but Airbuses will take off in any direction you like, wherever you like! Just advance thrust levers with the right config and off it will go.
Following instructions blindly has nothing to do with it. Suggest you read the investigation findings before casting aspersions..... :rolleyes:

ATC Watcher
23rd Aug 2002, 18:39
quote :
The airline has also ordered all its pilots to reconfirm with controllers that they are on the right runway before taking off, they said."
That is going to make CAL pilots very popular with ATC if they intend to enforce this. I can already think of a few good jokes to reply to them......

25th Aug 2002, 16:21
The punishment ordered by the Taiwanese CAA is a travesty of justice, particularly when viewed in the light of Taiwan's actions in the SQ006 accident. The crew took off not just from a taxiway but a taxiway whose bearing was nearly 90 degrees from that of the assigned runway. For that, they get a limited suspension, while SQ's Capt Foong and FO Cyrano were threatened with jail by the Taiwanese authorities and fired by SQ. I guess that, if you're an airline pilot who screws up, as long as no one gets killed, you'll get off with just a reprimand. God help us.
P.S. And, BTW, it was an A340.

Freak On A Leash
25th Aug 2002, 18:00
I stand corrected.

Does anyone have a link to the final report?Would be interesting to get to see the facts and details on this one.

I was under the impression (from previous posts right after the incident) that the crew had mistaken the runway (as I understood it to be 24R) with the parallel taxiway, but from your post Rockhound, it seems as if they were assigned to runway 32.
The parallel taxiway to 24R crosses the approach end of runway 32, but it should still be impossible to mistake the lighting and signs.Could it be that the crew had mistaken the direction signs towards the runway for actually being on a runway?!?!:eek:
But still the runway heading doesn`t match...

You also seem to be correct about punishment in Taiwan, Rockhound.Scary.

26th Aug 2002, 02:07
I guess had they crashed their services would quite rightly been terminated as in the SIA crash in Taipei?

26th Aug 2002, 03:20
No, probably not, unless someone died in the crash.

The aircraft accelerated for takeoff on Rwy 24's taxiway at 0243 hrs local, i.e. it was pitch dark. I would imagine that, even if the controller could clearly see what was happening, he was, understandably, dumbstruck and the a/c staggered into the air before he found his voice :eek:

26th Aug 2002, 06:19
Zerouali--your post shows a few misunderstandings.

First, that night was clear and cold. I flew out of PANC early the next morning I can tell you that, unless there's fog, when it's very clear the visibility is very good: more than 10sm, which would be the max reported by the ASOS (ATIS).

Second, during low workload it's common for the controller to simultaneously work both ground and tower. They often will clear an aircraft for takeoff while that aircraft is still on the taxi way. That's exactly what happened in this case except the clearance was received while they were taxiing on the *parallel* taxiway. The crew acknowledged the clearance, made a 90 degree turn on to the taxiway that was supposed to take them to RWY 32 and then began the takeoff run.

From the tower controllers point of view the 90 degree turn was expected. The accleration towards Cook Inlet was not!

I'm sure all of this is archived somewhere.

It must all boil down to basic airmanship if you ask me. The only problem I can see with ANC ATC *might* be to wait until the aircraft is physically in position on the runway. Of course low-vis ops will pose certain problems with such a procedure but there's always ground radar...

...and I shiver thinking about Milan:rolleyes:

Just listen *and* think!

26th Aug 2002, 07:18
I have read the transcript of this "Incident".

The controllers were aware from quite early on that the aircraft was taking off on the taxiway. They were following procedure (Amazing that they have a procedure that covers this!!) by not alerting the crew once take-off roll was comenced.

I totally agree with this. If there would have been one thing worse than taking off on the taxi-way, it would have been doing a high-speed Rejected Take-Off on it!!

26th Aug 2002, 11:22

Yeah, but V1 would have been calculated for the runway, not the taxiway....

Take some language considerations, disbelief and reaction time and an ill-timed abort could have been a wrecked aircraft and large body count instead of just a lot of red faces and lost face!!

Fact is a high-speed abort in a large jet is one of the riskiest manoeuvres there is. Once at speed the best place to be is in the air, and, as such, I agree that the best thing ATC could have done was watch and hope.

The fact that this major blunder resulted in zero casualties has to point to this being the correct (In)action!

27th Aug 2002, 07:51
Zerouali--Of course you're correct. The misunderstanding was mine. I apologize. I really should stop posting so late at night.

Fly safe:)

27th Aug 2002, 11:07
"It must all boil down to basic airmanship" you say??! More like total incompetence, I would say. There were two 4-stripers and a FO, all allegedly experienced, on that flight deck.