February 16th in Aviation History

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

China Airlines Flight 676 was a scheduled commercial international passenger flight between Bali, Indonesia and Taoyuan, Taiwan. On the 16th of February, 1998, the flight was being operated by an Airbus A300-600 family jetliner. It was carrying 196 passengers and crew. The aircraft crashed while attempting to land at the destination airport in Taoyuan City. All 196 occupants of the airplanes and 7 people on the ground died in the accident. This remains the deadliest air disaster on Taiwanese soil.

The subsequent investigation was carried out by the Civil Aviation Administration of China under a special task force. Its findings are the following:

“On initial approach to land, the aircraft was more than 300 meters above its normal altitude when it was only six nautical miles away from the airport. Nonetheless it continued the approach. Only when approaching the runway threshold, a go around was initiated. During this time, the pilot had unknowingly disengaged the plane’s autopilot but was not aware of it. During the go around he therefore did nothing to actively take control of the plane as he thought the autopilot would initiate the maneuver. For 11 seconds, the plane was under no one’s control.”

The report criticized China Airlines’ crew for insufficient training on the particular aircraft and the procedures for missed approaches on the A300.

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