Pilot who ignored commands banned

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2011, 12:00am
 

A South Korean pilot has been banned from flying in mainland airspace and his budget airline employer punished after he refused to follow air traffic controllers' instructions to give way to an international flight that had issued a distress call that it was short of fuel.

Describing the crew's actions in the August 13 incident as a 'severe breach of regulations', the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said Juneyao Airlines flight HO1112 ignored six orders from the control tower to yield over a seven-minute period and the pilot insisted on landing first even after the other aircraft had issued the alert.

Juneyao has been ordered to cut its flight operations by 10 per cent for three months. The authorities have also temporarily suspended the handling of applications by Juneyao for service expansions, permission to set up subsidiary companies and to buy or lease aircraft, the CAAC's East China division said.

The Shanghai-based airline was banned from hiring new foreign pilots and ordered to give its existing foreign pilots at least 40 hours of retraining 'within the next 30 days'.

The captain's licence had been revoked and the CAAC 'will never again accept a new application from him, nor allow him to operate again as a member of flight crew within China's borders', CAAC said. The co-pilot of the aircraft had his pilot's licence suspended for six months.

The airline said it would 'firmly implement' the administration's demands and apologised for the incident. It admitted the actions of its flight crew were wrong 'regardless of the reason'.

'Juneyao Airlines will diligently absorb the lessons, strive to improve our work and take a step further in deepening flight crew's education on strictly complying with the orders of air traffic controllers,' it said.

Juneyao added that it had fired the captain and suspended the co-pilot for six months.

The second aircraft involved, Qatar Airways flight QR888, landed safely after being forced to make a second approach to Hongqiao International Airport. It had been diverted from nearby Pudong International Airport after reporting to air traffic controllers that delays due to thunderstorms meant it was running dangerously low on fuel.

However, the CAAC also criticised the Qatar crew for exaggerating the level of emergency they were facing. Although they had not been found to have broken any rules there was 'some deficiency' in their estimate of how long their remaining fuel supply would last.

The crew had requested priority, saying the aircraft had just five minutes of fuel remaining before hitting their 30-minute emergency reserves. On landing, the Boeing B777-300ER was found to still have 5.2 tonnes of fuel, which would have allowed 18 minutes more flying time before tapping reserves.

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