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Probe into potential tragedy at airport

(China Daily)

15:48, August 26, 2011

SHANGHAI - The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has launched a probe into a Chinese pilot's alleged refusal to let a Qatar Airway's jet that was running short of fuel land first.

In a statement published on its official website on Wednesday, CAAC East China Regional Administration said the incident is being investigated.

On Aug 13, Qatar Airway's flight QR888 from Doha to Shanghai Pudong International Airport requested permission to land at the city's Hongqiao International Airport due to adverse weather conditions.

When it approached Hongqiao airport, the pilot reported it was low on fuel and requested a priority landing before other flights that were in a holding pattern.

Air traffic controllers at Hongqiao airport informed other flights to give way to the Qatar Airways flight, but a pilot of Juneyao Airlines' flight HO1112 refused to carry out the order and insisted on landing first, said the statement.

Fortunately, the Qatar Airways plane later was able to land safely.

Reports of the incident provoked an immediate response from netizens. The overwhelming majority scolded the pilot's selfishness in not assisting a plane calling "Mayday".

Mayday is an emergency signal used in radio communications, which derives from the French phrase "venez m'aider", meaning "come help me".

"If a Juneyao flight one day flies in low on fuel and calls Mayday, what can it expect from other pilots?" asked a micro-blogger named Lijinjun.

Privately-owned Juneyao Airlines refused to comment on the event, but posted a statement on Wednesday evening, saying the company is actively cooperating with the CAAC probe, and has suspended the pilot and crew pending the findings.

Juneyao also claimed that the online description of the incident was far different from the truth, but the carrier said it will not release details about the incident to the public during the probe, which is in line with CAAC regulations.

"If the incident proves true, this would be a severe violation of aviation regulations and deserves a punishment," said Li Lei, an airline industry analyst with CITIC China Securities Co Ltd.

The incident has also cast a shadow on China's plan to open part of its low-altitude airspace over the next five to ten years for commercial aviation.

"The threshold to enter low altitude airspace will be lifted even higher to secure aviation safety," said Li.

In late 2010, a circular jointly issued by the State Council and the Central Military Commission of China said the country's low-altitude airspace will be partly opened.

As Asia's largest aviation market and the world's second largest, China's civil aviation market is expected to witness annual growth of 13 percent between 2011 and 2015, according to a China Securities Journal report.


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PD User at 2011-10-0881.17.22.*
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utJOLdTKc at 2011-09-0487.116.13.*
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vPLaatUU at 2011-09-02200.236.208.*
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