China Airlines has lost a lot of credibility in the minds of the travelling public. After the Nagoya and the Taipei crashes. And of course the Penghu 747 breakup. I myself have not been on a CAL plane in over ten years. But had been a regular customer of theirs for hundreds of flights in Taiwan and to the USA and Europe.
The 747 breakup was an airframe failure which is exceedingly rare, but has been known to have happened . That particular airplane had been in CAL service for over 20 years and in fact was on its last revenue flight before delivery to its soon to be new owner (Orient Thai). The plane broke apart because a repair job done for a tail strike many years ago lost its integrity. MUch like the 747 breakup in Japan some years before. IN that instance the rear pressure bulkhead gave way. And that too was repaired after a tail strike by JAL pilots on an occasion way before the breakup.
Tail strikes are pilot error, but are more common then regularly reported in the news. Unfortunately , even Boeing has not been able to make the damage “go away”. Because in both of those instances Boeing engineers repaired the planes in question. But they crashed . Admittedly many many years later, but . They should have had their service lives way shortened after a major airframe repair. The fuselage acts as a pressure cylinder and its integrity at high altitudes is very important. LIke a balloon . It can POP, just like the CAL 747 over penghu. It broke into at least 3 major pieces. A lot of pressure is exerted on the fuselage at 35,000 feet, when the inside pressure altitude is about 5000 feet.
I personally believe that jets over 20 years old should be grounded. They should not continue flying because the airframe has really had enough. There is talk that newer jets will be designed with a shorter design life. Propeller planes fly safely even after 40 years because they are never subjected to the amount of stress a jet is. IN the Industry, many major airlines now aspire to retire jets after 15 years of regular service. Jets with very low time could fly longer. EVA for example has a stated policy to retire (or sell off) passenger jets with over 15 years service. And a lot of their 747 have been converted to cargo aircraft. IN a cargo plane the only pressurized area remains the cockpit and part of the front fuselage. The rest become unpressurized and therefore no longer is subject to quite the same stress levels. Their 767s have been sold off. MD 11 have become cargo as well. CAL should have done the same with its ill fated flight. But was following international norms associated with other major airlines at the time. The repaired section gave way without warning. There was no way it could have been seen before the flight. The copilots cursory glance around the aircraft before flight did not reveal any major flaws to his eyes . MAYBE he missed something? Donno.
The Taipei crash seems to have been a stall upon trying to regain altitude after a miss approach.
Miss approaches are dangerous. And stalls can happen on a go around. As evidenced by the very recent plane crash in phuket. Especially on a loaded aircraft thats at its upper weight limits. Pilots are supposed to be trained in handling go arounds. And they should be pretty safe. However, I personally think that Airbus aircraft are “underpowered” as opposed to boeing aircraft and have a smaller margin of safety in a critical situation like a go around.(the crash in phuket was a md82 and nothing about airbus ) Thats just my uneducated opinion though. But the A320 for example have engines with a much less rated thrust then its competitor the 757 (which has engines from the 747). However, in the market place the A320 wins and the 757 is now history because those big engines gulzzled gas as opposed to the CFM or the IAE2500 of the A320. But in a go around, Id rather be in a 757 !!
The Nagoya crash happened because of the man/machine interface issue. The airplane was doing its own thing and the pilots another (and not knowing what the airplane was doing because they were unaware they had inadvertantly bumped the TOGA switch). When the pilots realized their situation it was already too late. They were in a stall. And all power was in fact lost at one point even though the engines were on full .
This is a very simplified explanation. But you can read all about the Nagoya crash, the Taipei crash , the Penghu crash etc.
Pardon any mistakes I may have made as I am just going by memory here.
Suffice to say that those crashes could occur with another major carrier. Airbus aircraft have had a few accidents due to the man/machine interaction and its design philosophies. And even the latest TAM crash was due to a misunderstanding of the Airbus flight criteria.
CAL have been most unlucky and they should do whatever EVA is doing . Lets hope they dont have any major crashes for a very long long time.
I think they should rename themselves as some other carriers do that have a bad record.
frankly , I personally would be a bit more scared then usual in a CAL plane just because, but hey I am only human
But credit and/or blame should be apportioned properly and CAL doesnt deserve to be unfairly bashed.