Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Never Choose China Airlines

Whenever I fly out of Taiwan (almost always to Hong Kong), I insist on either EVA or Dragonair because I do not trust China Airlines one iota - and why would I with at least eight fatal crashes from 1970 to 2002 and three dangerous incidents between 1985 and 2007 all attributable to either poor leadership, sloppy maintenance or pilot error? By comparison, neither EVA airlines since its' launch in 1988, nor Dragonair since its' launch in 1985 have had a single fatal accident - moreover, between these two airlines there have only been three dangerous incidents; two involving turbulence and one involving a burst tire. China Airlines has had the same number of non-fatal incidents all by itself - including most recently a 737 having one of its' engines explode and the aircraft itself actually catching fire upon landing in Okinawa.

So against that background, China Airlines' denial, reported in the Taipei Times today, that in 2008 one of its' captains flew a 737 back to Taiwan from Bali whilst aware that the right wing fuel tank was leaking oil... it just astounds me that the execs at this company - even assuming they are telling the truth - why do they bother denying such a story? Nobody in their right mind would trust them with an accident record like that. If China Airlines wasn't indirectly owned and funded by the government, surely they'd have went out of business years ago and a good several hundred people might still be alive today?

Aside from their financial protection from the government, my opinion as to why China Airlines has such a poor record comes from uncounted daily observations of how badly Taiwanese people tend to drive and maintain their cars, motorcycles, taxis and buses - it is just an endless horror show. I recall talking to two pilots in Kaohsiung in 2007 just after the Okinawa incident - one British and the other Australian (both were living in Hong Kong and regularly piloted flights between Hong Kong and Taiwan) - and one of them told me in words almost exactly to this effect:
"You see how people here drive their cars and scooters? That's exactly how they fly airplanes."

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