China Airlines Flight 140
|Date||26 April 1994|
|Summary||Stall caused by pilot error|
Nagoya, Japan |
|Aircraft type||Airbus A300B4-622R|
|Flight origin||Chiang Kai-Shek Int'l Airport (Now Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport)|
China Airlines Flight 140 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight from Chiang Kai-shek International Airport (now Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport) serving Taipei, Taiwan, to Nagoya Airport in Nagoya, Japan.
On 26 April 1994, the Airbus A300B4-622R was completing a routine flight and approach, when, just seconds before landing at Nagoya Airport, it slammed into the ground, killing 264 of the 271 people on board.
To date, the accident remains the deadliest accident in the history of China Airlines, and the second-deadliest aviation accident on Japanese soil, behind Japan Airlines Flight 123. It is also the third-deadliest aviation accident or incident involving an Airbus A300, after Iran Air Flight 655 and later American Airlines Flight 587.
On 26 April 1994, the Airbus A300B4-622R was completing a routine flight and approach, when, just before landing at Nagoya Airport, the first officer (copilot) inadvertently selected the takeoff/go-around setting (also known as a TO/GA), which tells the autopilot to raise the throttle position to the same as take offs and go-arounds.
The crew attempted to correct the situation, manually reducing the throttles and pushing the yoke forward. However, they did not disconnect the autopilot, which was still acting on the inadvertent go-around command it had been given, so it increased its own efforts in reaction to overcome the yoke forward being enacted by the pilot. The autopilot followed its procedures and moved the horizontal stabilizer to its full nose-up position. The pilots, realizing the landing must be aborted, then knowingly executed a go-around, pulling back on the yoke and adding to the nose-up attitude that the autopilot was already trying to execute. The resulting extreme nose-up attitude, combined with decreasing airspeed due to insufficient thrust, resulted in an aerodynamic stall. With insufficient altitude to recover, the aircraft crashed into the ground.
Of the 271 people on board (15 crew and 256 passengers), only 7 passengers survived.
The crash, which destroyed the aircraft (delivered less than 3 years earlier in 1991), was primarily attributed to crew error for their failure to correct the controls as well as the airspeed. Nine months earlier, Airbus had advised its customers to make a modification to the air flight system that would fully disengage the autopilot "when certain manual controls input is applied on the control wheel in GO-AROUND mode", which would have included the yoke-forward movement the pilots made on this accident flight. The accident aircraft was scheduled to only receive the update the next time it required a more substantial service break, because "China Airlines judged that the modifications were not urgent". These factors were deemed contributing incidents to the crash, after the primary failure of the pilots to take control of the situation once it began.
History of the flight
The flight took off from Chiang Kai-shek International Airport at 16:53 Taiwan Standard Time bound for Nagoya Airport. At the controls were captain Wang Lo-chi (Chinese: 王樂琦; pinyin: Wáng Lèqí) and first officer Chuang Meng-jung (莊孟容; Zhuāng Mèngróng). The en-route flight was uneventful; the descent started at 19:47, and the airplane passed the outer marker at 20:12. Just 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) from the runway threshold at 1,000 feet (300 m) AGL, the airplane levelled off for about 15 seconds and continued descending until about 500 feet (150 m) where there were two bursts of thrust applied in quick succession and the airplane was nose up in a steep climb. Airspeed dropped quickly, the airplane stalled, and struck the ground at 20:15:45. 31-year-old Noriyasu Shirai, a survivor, said that a flight attendant announced that the plane would crash after the aircraft stalled. Sylvanie Detonio, who had survived to 27 April, said that passengers received no warning prior to the crash. All passengers who survived the accident were seated in rows 7 through 15.
On 27 April 1994, officials said there were 10 survivors (including a 3-year-old) and that a Filipino, two Taiwanese, and seven Japanese survived. By 6 May, only seven remained alive, including three children. A doctor expressed surprise at the survival of two of the children.
Japanese prosecutors declined to pursue charges of professional negligence on the airline's senior management as it was "difficult to call into question the criminal responsibility of the four individuals because aptitude levels achieved through training at the carrier were similar to those at other airlines." The pilots could not be prosecuted since they died in the accident.
A class action suit was filed against China Airlines and Airbus Industrie for compensation. In December 2003, the Nagoya District Court ordered China Airlines to pay a combined 5 billion yen to 232 people, but cleared Airbus of liability. Some of the bereaved and survivors felt that the compensation was inadequate and a further class action suit was filed and ultimately settled in April 2007 when the airline apologized for the accident and provided additional compensation.
There had been earlier "out-of-trim incidents" with the Airbus A300-600R. Airbus had the company that made the flight control computer produce a modification to the air flight system that would disengage the autopilot "when certain manual controls input is applied on the control wheel in GO-AROUND mode". This modification was first available in September 1993, and the aircraft that had crashed had been scheduled to receive the upgrade. The aircraft had not received the update at the time of the crash because "China Airlines judged that the modifications were not urgent".
On 3 May 1994, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) of the Republic of China (Taiwan) ordered China Airlines to modify the flight control computers following Airbus's notice of the modification. On 7 May 1994, the CAA ordered China Airlines to provide supplementary training and a re-evaluation of proficiency to all A300-600R pilots. The flight numbers CI140/141 were retired after the accident and were replaced with CI150/151.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to China Airlines Flight 140.|
- (in English) Aircraft Accident Investigation Report – Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission (Archive)
- Text version of English main report – Prepared for the World Wide Web by Hiroshi Sogame (十亀 洋 Sogame Hiroshi), a member of the Safety Promotion Committee (総合安全推進) of All Nippon Airways; and by Prof. Peter B. Ladkin, PhD of the University of Bielefeld
- English appendices text version – Prepared for the World Wide Web by Marco Gröning
- (in Japanese) Aircraft Accident Investigation Report – Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission (Original version, version of record)
- Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
- 2ND LD: Taiwan's China Airlines ordered to pay 5 bil. yen over crash.
- Cockpit voice recorder transcript from the flight
- "Kin settle over 1994 China Air Nagoya crash." Kyodo at the Japan Times. Friday 20 April 2007.
- China Airlines Airbus A300-600R (Flight 140) Misses Landing and Goes Up in Flame at Nagoya Airport
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