Formosa Airlines

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Formosa Airlines
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1966
Ceased operations 1999
(merged into Mandarin Airlines)
Operating bases Taipei Songshan Airport
Kaohsiung Airport
Headquarters Taipei

Formosa Airlines (traditional Chinese: 國華航空; simplified Chinese: 国华航空; pinyin: Guóhuá Hángkōng) was a regional airline from Taiwan, operating an extensive network of domestic routes out of its bases at Taipei Songshan Airport and Kaohsiung International Airport.[1][2] Its headquarters were in Taipei.[3]


Formosa Airlines Dornier 328-110

The company was founded on 5 May 1966 as Yung Shing Airlines (T: 永興航空, S: 永興航空, P: Yǒngxīng Hángkōng),[4] and revenue operations commenced on 1 July.[5] For the first decade of its existence, only crop dusting services were offered, before turning towards passenger flights.[6] With its small fleet of Britten-Norman Islander and Cessna 404s, Yung Shing Airlines served a number of domestic destinations, most notably linking Taitung City with outlying Orchid Island and Green Island.[7] In 1983, the Dornier Do 228 joined the fleet, which would remain an important part for the airline's operations throughout the years.[8]

On 8 August 1987, the company was renamed Formosa Airlines (reflecting the historic name for Taiwan) and moved its headquarters to Taipei, with the city's Songshan Airport becoming its primary base.[8] In 1988, Formosa Airlines became the first Far Eastern operator of the Saab 340, with a capacity of 37 passengers its by then-largest aircraft type.[9] by 1996, this subfleet had grown to nine planes.[6] Plans for turning the airline into a Hong Kong-registered company in order to be able to transport passengers between Taiwan and China were brought forth in 1989, but did not materialize.[10] Formosa Airline became a jet aircraft operator in 1995, when two 109-seat Fokker 100s were acquired, along with 5 smaller Fokker 50 turboprop airliners.[11][12]

In July 1996, China Airlines acquired a 41 percent stake in Formosa Airlines and took over the management, aiming at thus improving Formosa's inferior safety record (see below) and developing Kaohsiung International Airport into a domestic hub.[13] When EVA Air, the major competitor of China Airlines, merged its domestic subsidiaries to create Uni Air in 1998, a similar merger was announced for Formosa Airlines and Mandarin Airlines, with the latter name to be kept.[14] On 8 August 1999, the merger was finalized:[8][15] Formosa Airlines with its then 620 employees and a number of short haul aircraft were combined with Mandarin's, with all long haul planes of Mandarin Airlines being handed over to China Airlines.[5][14]


During the 1990s, Formosa Airlines operated scheduled flights to the following domestic destinations:[2]

Location Airport(s)
Green Island Lyudao Airport
Hualien City Hualien Airport
Kaohsiung City Kaohsiung International Airport
(secondary base)[1][2]
Kinmen Kinmen Airport[6]
Magong Magong Airport
Orchid Island Lanyu Airport
Qimei Qimei Airport
Taichung Taichung Airport
Taipei Taipei Songshan Airport
(primary base)
Taitung City Taitung Airport


Prior to merger:[16]

Historic fleet[edit]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 9 October 1983, a Britten-Norman Islander (registered B-12202) of Yung Shing Airlines was damaged beyond repair in a landing incident at Orchid Island Airport. The twelve people on board survived.[17]
  • Another accident at Orchid Island involving a Formosa Airlines aircraft (the company had been renamed by then) occurred on 14 August 1990. A cargo-configured Dornier Do 228 (registered B-12268) was approaching the airport when it crashed 15 meters short of the runway threshold, killing the two pilots.[18]
  • On 28 February 1993, the six people—two pilots and four passengers—on board a Do 228 (registered B-12238) died when the aircraft crashed into the sea during a landing attempt at Orchid Island in heavy rain.[19]
  • Another Formosa Airlines Do-228 (registered B-12298) was damaged beyond repair when its undercarriage collided with an airport fence in a landing attempt at Green Island Airport on 14 June 1993. The 20 passengers and two pilots that had been on the scheduled passenger flight from Taitung City survived.[20]
  • In 1995, Formosa Airlines suffered the write-off of two of its Do 228 in only three days. On 15 June, a belly landing incident occurred at Taitung Airport at 15:07 local time. The airplane with the registration B-12288 had originated at Green Island.[21] On 18 June, the pilots of the airliner registered B-12208 lost control during taxiing at Green Island Airport, resulting in the Dornier running into a ditch.[22] Each flight had 17 passengers on board, all of which survived.
  • On 5 April 1996, six passengers of Flight 7613 from Taipei lost their lives when the aircraft, a Do 228 registered B-12257, crashed into the sea off Matsu Beigan Airport at 16:25 local time. In poor visibility conditions, the pilots had descended too steeply. There were eleven survivors.[23]
  • The worst accident in the history of Formosa Airlines happened on 10 August 1997, again on the Taipei-Matsu route. At 08:33 local time, Flight 7601 (a Do 228, registered B-12256) hit treetops and a water tower following an aborted landing attempt in a heavy rainstorm. All persons on board (two pilots and fourteen passengers) died when the airplane crashed 1 kilometer off Matsu Beigan Airport and erupted into fire.[24]
  • Following another air disaster killing 13 people on 18 March 1998, Formosa Airlines was grounded until 1 April,[13] as it was determined that the pilots had not complied with the standard operating procedure. The Saab 340 (registered B-12255) with eight passengers and five crew members on board crashed a few minutes into a scheduled passenger flight from Hsinchu to Kaohsiung, at 19:32 local time. During the pre-flight check, the pilots had noticed that several systems were unavailable, including the autopilot and electronic flight instrument system (EFIS). Violating the minimum equipment list, according to which the aircraft should have been considered to be in a non-flyable condition, the pilots decided to take-off nevertheless. In flight, the aircraft proved to behave in an unpredicted way, as the leading edges of the wings could not be kept at equal temperatures because of the failing bleed air supply, causing a loss of control.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 1993 route map of Formosa Airlines, created using the Great Circle Mapper
  2. ^ a b c "World airline directory: Formosa Airlines". Flight International: 94. 24 March 1993. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  3. ^ J Carr, D.. Walsh, Graham & Whiteside, Limited, J. L. Murphy, A.. Lim. Major Companies of the Far East and Australasia, Volume 2. Graham & Trotman, 1990. p. 1055. "FORMOSA AIRLINES CORPORATION 12Fl 1 Nanking East Road, Section 4, Taipei"
  4. ^ Information about Formosa Airlines at the Aero Transport Data Bank.
  5. ^ a b "World airline directory: Formosa Airlines". Flight International: 75. 31 March 1999. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c "World airline directory: Formosa Airlines". Flight International. 3 April 1996. pp. 59–60. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "Information about Yung Shing Airlines". Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c "Information about Formosa Airlines". Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  9. ^ "Far East breakthrough". Flight International: 6. 23 January 1988. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  10. ^ "Hong Kong competition rises". Flight International: 20. 27 May 1989. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  11. ^ "Formosa Airlines fleet detail". Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "Formosa orders Fokkers for fleet". Flight International: 9. 26 July 1995. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Domestic upheavals". Flight International: 33–35. 8 April 1998. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  14. ^ a b "Mandarin/Formosa set to merge in June". Flight International: 14. 18 November 1998. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "World airline directory: Formosa Airlines". Flightglobal: 82. 4 April 2000. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  16. ^ "Formosa Airlines Fleet". Airfleets. 
  17. ^ 1983 Yung Shin Airlines accident at the Aviation Safety Network.
  18. ^ 1990 Formosa Airlines accident at the Aviation Safety Network.
  19. ^ February 1993 Formosa Airlines crash at the Aviation Safety Network.
  20. ^ June 1993 accident at the Aviation Safety Network.
  21. ^ 15 June 1995 accident at the Aviation Safety Network.
  22. ^ 18 June 1995 accident at the Aviation Safety Network.
  23. ^ 1996 accident at the Aviation Safety Network
  24. ^ 1997 accident at the Aviation Safety Network.
  25. ^ 1998 Formosa Airlines plane crash at the Aviation Safety Network