Calls for A330 grounding following China Airlines incident

There have been calls to ground the Airbus A330 in Taiwan following an incident involving the aircraft type on June 14.

China Airlines Airbus A330-300 pictured at Singapore Changi Airport. Photo by Benjamin Liew | AeroNewsX


An A330-300 operated by China Airlines was operating a scheduled service between Shanghai Pudong Airport and Taipei Songshan Airport as flight CI202. Upon landing, three of the aircraft’s primary flight systems including its thrust reversers and autobrake systems, all failed.


Fortunately, with just 80 passengers on board, the aircraft came to a halt just 10 metres before the end of the runway (which is 2600 metres long). The pilots used manual braking to bring the plane to safety.


Investigations are currently taking place, with China Airlines confirming it is working with Airbus to determine the cause of the incident. The CAA, meanwhile, has dismissed calls from a prominent figure within the aviation industry to ground the type pending investigation. It added, however, that pilots must be careful should a similar incident occur.


Taiwan's CAA said that all Airbus A330 operators should take caution, recommending airlines to closely examine conditions at the relevant airports. Should the weather pose a serious threat to the safety of those on board, crew have been advised to divert to a different airport. The CAA mentioned, while not an order, that airlines should enhance training and/or crew awareness to prepare them in the event that a similar incident occurs.


Chang Kuo-wei, founder and chairman at Starlux Airlines, Taiwan's newest international carrier, called on the Taiwanese CAA to ground the Airbus A330 pending investigation. Worth noting is that Starlux does not actually operate the Airbus A330. Kuo-wei, on the other hand, is an experienced pilot on the Boeing 777. Meanwhile, EVA Air, which like China Airlines operates the Airbus A330, is in discussions with Airbus regarding the incident.


This is said to be the first incident of its kind with the Airbus A330 - an aircraft known for its reliability and strong safety record brought about through technical improvements compared to previous generation planes. The Airbus A330 is also a global type; unlike most Sukhoi aircraft for example, the A330 is a very common sight in most places around the world.


Many believe, however, that if the aircraft were operating at a much higher capacity, flight CI202 could have ended disastrously. Moreover, if it weren't for the pilots' quick reactions, those onboard the A330 (and indeed those that live in the densely population surrounding area) may not have been so lucky.


Nevertheless, the A330-300 is a common sight at Taiwan's Songshan Airport, as mentioned in a report by The China Post. The future of the Airbus A330-300 could potentially be very uncertain if the investigation reveals significant design flaws. However, with its global presence and decades-long service, many doubt any flaws as such will be uncovered.

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