China Airlines’ Five Year Streak Broken

Accidents/Incidents, China Airlines

It had been a good five years for China Airlines. It almost seems silly to say it, because five years without an accident should be a given for most airlines of that size. But for China Airlines it was a true accomplishment. Unfortunately, that record was broken this weekend when one of their planes exploded after landing.

07_08_20 chinaexplodeSeeing the pictures (photo credit: REUTERS/Ryukyu Shimpo), you’d think things were worse than they actually were. An engine caught fire after landing and everyone evacuated immediately. After the last person made it off, it looks like the fire must have reached the fuel tank because that’s when it blew up. Nobody was injured.

Even though everything worked out ok here (unless you’re the insurer of the aircraft), this still brings back memories of the airline’s horrible problems in the past. To put things in perspective, the airline has had 10 fatal events in about 900,000 flights killing 800 people. That compares to AirTran/Valujet’s 1 fatal event in just over 1 million flights (you remember the Everglades crash in 1996). Remember, back in the day, Valujet had a pretty rough reputation, but China Airlines makes their record look stellar.

The airline had promised to turn things around, but with a safety record like that, who wouldn’t be skeptical? The clean five year record had started to give hope that things were getting better. This latest incident certainly brings some doubt back in to my mind. Hopefully outside investigators will be able to come in and find what really caused this problem. It could be a fluke and not something that’s related to their problems of the past. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope that’s the case.

UPDATE 8/20 @ 1129a: Check out this amazing video taken from the terminal building. You can see that as soon as the last passenger jumps down the slide, the explosion in the center of the aircraft occurs. Then you see the pilots jump out the front. It’s amazing everyone was ok.

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