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China Airlines' troubled history

China Airlines' troubled history

HONG KONG, China -- China Airlines (CAL), which is Taiwan's largest airline, has been troubled by safety issues.

Founded in 1959, its fleet of 56 aircraft are used to service routes to over 40 cities in 20 countries and it employs almost 10,000 people.

The CAL flight which crashed en route from Taiwan to Hong Kong was said to have been a Boeing 747-200 with 225 passengers and crew on board. (Full story)

According to the company's Web site, it has only one 747-200 aircraft and prefers instead to use the larger 747-400, of which it has about a dozen.

Timeline: Major air disasters in Asia 

The 22-year-old plane was due to be replaced, a statement released at the start of the year and published on the Web site says.

The crash will be a major set back for the airline, which is in the process of implementing a fleet simplification programme and cost control policy.

A statement on the Web site for plans for 2002 said: "Three more B747-400 freighters will be introduced to replace B747-200 freighters.

"The average age of its fleet will be further reduced to less than 6 years. New strategic cooperation will be started. New passenger and cargo destinations will also be inaugurated and new e-marketing campaigns will be launched.

"It is expected that China Airlines will be able to fulfill or surpass its pretax earning forecast of NT$1.41 billion this year. "

But the company has had its share of disasters in recent years and according to the aviation safety Web site,, CAL has had nine fatal accidents since 1970.

China Airlines Boeing 747 after skidding into water at Kai Tak International Airport, Hong Kong, in 1993
China Airlines Boeing 747 after skidding into water at Kai Tak International Airport, Hong Kong, in 1993  

Once considered one of the world's most dangerous air carriers, in recent years the airline has reshuffled its board and has put the emphasis on safety.

The most serious accident took place eight years ago when a China Airlines plane crashed in Japan with the loss of 264 lives.

The aircraft stalled, hit the runway tail first and then burst into flames. It was claimed that the crew could have saved the plane had they reverted to basic flying procedures and switched off the auto-pilot.

In 1999, a China Airlines jetliner overturned while landing at Hong Kong international airport, killing two people.

In 1998, a CAL Airbus carrying holidaymakers back from Bali crashed at Taipei airport, killing 196 aboard and seven on the ground.

That disaster followed a 1994 crash in Nagoya, Japan, when a China Airlines Airbus A300-600R stalled during landing. Only seven of the 271 passengers and crew survived.


• China Airlines plane crashes
May 25, 2002

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