TAIPEI, Taiwan – The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) yesterday said it would propose to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications that Far Eastern Air Transport be temporarily barred from access to new cross-strait routes following a series of incidents last month that exposed safety issues with the airline.
Lin Chun-liang, deputy director of the CAA’s flight standards division, said that the CAA had formed a task force and conducted a thorough inspection of the airline from May 2 to May 8, adding that the members of the task force were all experienced inspectors with the organization.
“Considering the numbers and the qualifications of the airline’s personnel, we doubt that the airline will be able to continue to expand its operations,” Lin said. “Following the inspection, we reached a conclusion to temporarily freeze the expansion of the airline’s business and restrict the number of charter flights and cross-strait flights it can offer.”
Proposed to take effect on Saturday, the restrictions would limit the airline to offering no more than five cross-strait charter flights per month — the quota assigned to each airline — and prevent the company from accessing new cross-strait routes.
Lin said that the CAA is scheduled to inspect the airline again on June 14, adding that further measures could be implemented if the airline does not address its safety issues.
The measures could include restricting the number of international charter flights the airline could offer, he said.
Lin said that the airline is restructuring its finances under the supervision of the district court, adding that the CAA had toughened up inspections of the airline’s aircraft after it resumed flights in 2011.
The average age of the airline’s six aircraft is between 14 and 15 years and as such, they are considered old aircraft, Lin said.
According to Lin, the airline has experienced in-flight shutdowns four times since 2011.
In response to the CAA’s investigation, the airline said it would improve its operations to meet the required standards and that flight safety was the company’s top priority.