Chairman Resigned, Loose Bolt Caused China Airlines 737 Fire and Explosion – Update

Loose bolt caused fuel leakage

According to the Japanese investigation committee a very small hole on the fuel tank caused by a loose bolt was the reason fuel leaked from the aircraft. It is still unclear though why the leaking fuel ignited. The committee held a press conference in Okinawa, where cheif investigator Kazushige Daiki presented a photo of the punctured fuel tank. It is unknown yet how the bolt moved away from its original place in the left wing and pierced through the fuel tank.

China Airlines Chairman resigns

Meanwhile China Airlines Chairman Philip Wei offered his resignation to the board of directors. Following a weird prompt compensation on site, China Airlines offered around USD 800-900 for each passenger and around the same amount for their distroyed baggages.

Passengers criticize airline crew

Also passengers who were on board of the aircraft critcized the airline crew for not giving clear instructions during evacuation. The crew noticed the fire much later than passengers sitting by the window during landing. People reportedly started shouting and screaming inside the aircraft and crew memebers could not conduct the evacuation professionally. It was hard to open emergency exits and it was not clear either what to do outside the aircraft.

“If the crew hadn’t been on the ball and the clients hadn’t cooperated, then the result could have been different,” said Chen Peng-yu, the Taiwan based airline’s assistant publicity vice president.

We will soon release a post about the problems with airline safety procedures, because this is a real issue what happened in Okinawa. There no instructions about wat to do outside the aircraft during evacuation.

By Szafi

7 Responses to “Chairman Resigned, Loose Bolt Caused China Airlines 737 Fire and Explosion – Update”

  1. 1 James September 3, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    You say above that “There no instructions about wat to do outside the aircraft during evacuation” but this is not true. Every flight I have been on during the past 30 years has a Safety Instructions card in the seat back pocket with clear instructions to “move away from the aircraft as quickly as possible” in the event of an evacuation. The main problem is that many passengers do not read this card even after being instructed to do so by the flight crew.

  2. 2 szafi September 3, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Hi James,

    as usual I am very happy again that someone from an airline commented our blog. It is really good to know that professionals also find our blog interesting.
    Back to our topic: yes, James, you are right. It issometimes written on safety cards – not always though. I found a nice site with a collection of scanned safety cards. It is worth it to take a look at it:
    I clicked on some of them in a random way and I couldn’t find it anywhere.
    On the other hand it is just logical. It is pure human thinking and logic that makes you run away as fast as you can from a burning plane. It is obvious for me, too. However we live in an age, when we have to write on a microwave oven not to dry cats in it. 🙂
    No, seriously I thought a lot about it since then. Honestly if I had been a flight attendant on that particular flight, I wouldn’t have done anything different. I think it was a nice job that they could rescue all passengers. Victims of other air accidents cannot criticize their flight crew, because they do not survive. That is why this accident was a little bit different.

  3. 3 balint01 October 3, 2007 at 10:58 am

    Taiwan’s China Airlines, the island’s largest carrier, replaced its chairman just over a month after one of its jets exploded after landing at Japan’s southern island of Okinawa. China Airlines chairman Philip Wei was replaced by Ringo Chao, who also serves as the company’s president, the company said in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange. No reason for Wei’s replacement was given in the statement. China Airlines has a troubled safety record, with four deadly accidents in the past 13 years, including a crash in the Japanese city of Nagoya in 1994 in which 264 people were killed.


  4. 4 Dale Cassady October 10, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    As a flight attendant for 35 years, I watched the videos of the evacuation of the China Airlines 737 at Okinawa with awe and fascination. Every passenger on that plane survived. This miracle was due to one thing and one thing alone: The heroic efforts of the flight attendants on board. Passengers (seated by windows on the left side) yelled to the flight attendants that the airplane was on fire. Within less than two minutes EVERYONE was outside of that plane! The aircraft exploded seconds later. Anyone who has seen these videos surely must think that they are witnessing death. Yet, all passengers and crew are alive today.

    Of course, the typical media spin took place within minutes of the explosion. The pilots were given credit for saving lives on the news that night. Look at those videos again. The pilots escaped through a cockpit window. They did not assist in the evacuation. They slid down a rope with the cockpit door closed. (That actually was a proper procedure. They are not required to open doors for passengers to escape. That is the job of the flight attendants.)

    Some of the comments on this site said that passengers criticized the crew for “not giving clear instruction.” I find this hard to believe. As a flight attendant, I am required to attend Recurrent Emergency Training every year. These classes include a test of exactly what I am required to say and do during a crash. All flight attendants must pass this test with 100% accuracy or not be allowed to fly. (How many jobs do you know of that require annual testing in proficiency of one’s profession?…Wouldn’t this country be a safer place if doctors, lawyers, congressmen and others had to be checked with a government test to make sure they understood how to do their jobs?) Anyway…The words that a flight attendant must say during a crash are very specific. Here they are….quoted from memory:

    “Brace.” “Release your seatbelt. Get Out. Leave Everything.” “Stand Back.” “Come this way.” “You and you, stay at the bottom. Pull people off. Send them away.” “Jump.”

    There are very specific reasons why these words are said in this order and in this form.
    “Brace” means to protect yourself in a certain position. If you look at ANY safety card on an airplane, you will see pictured brace positions. A flight attendant will continue yelling commands. You should keep your head down and stay down until the airplane stops, so that you won’t be hit by flying debris (like that briefcase that you insisted on keeping by your seat.)
    “Release your seatbelts and Get Out” tells you to unfasten your seatbelt because in a panic situation, you might not realize that you’re belted into the seat.
    “Leave everything” tells you not to bring your suitcase with you. There have been fatal crashes that happened because a passenger’s suitcase ripped the evacuation slide, making the slide inoperative. People died because other passengers wanted to bring their belongings with them during an evacuation.
    “Stand Back” is yelled to give the flight attendant time to look out the emergency door window to make sure the door is safe to open and to give the flight attendant room to open the door and pull the emergency slide handle on the floor of the doorway.
    “Come this way” is said because in a fire/darkness/emergency you might not be able to see. You would hear the voice of the flight attendant and hopefully, follow the sound to an open door. If a fire is outside of the door the flight attendant would not open that door. She would direct you to “Go back” or “Go Across” to a door that could be opened.
    “You and You. Stay at the bottom. Pull people off. Send them away” are words said to the first two passengers at the open door. These words mean to tell the first two passengers to stay at the bottom of the slide and to pull people off as they hit the ground so that they don’t impede the evacuation of the people behind them. “Send them away” means to run away from the plane (because it just might explode!)
    “Jump” tells each passenger to jump into the slide for a faster exit.

    Of course, there was panic…confusion…during the China Airlines crash. Of course, passengers saw the fire first. Of course, it will take a long time to fully understand why this horrible explosion happened. Was it the mechanic’s fault for not tightening the bolt that caused the hole in the fuel tank? Was it the pilot’s fault who also was supposed to do a visual inspection before take off? Was it the airline management’s fault for cutting costs and not allowing time for proper maintenance? One thing we know for sure: the explosion was not the fault of the flight attendants. They are there to save lives AFTER the crash. And, hear this: No death of any person in aviation history has ever been attributed to a flight attendant.

    Thanks for the use of your soap box.

  5. 5 szafi October 10, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Dear Dale,

    thanks for this very professional comment. I think we’ve all learned from it. I absolutely understand your feelings about those who cirticized the work of the flight attendants.
    Sometimes people just think flight attendants are nothing more than air waiters and waitresses. They forget how important their role is when it comes to an accident.
    Our goal with this blog was to show the complexity and beauty of flying to people who do not see these parts of the process and to give them over some of that passion we have about flying. I think your comment helped a lot to achieve this goal!

  6. 6 jay of china airlines October 29, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    dear all,
    let me first and foremost inform you that if you are seated in the emergency exit row you should understand that you have a big responsiblity incase of an emergency…. if ever our highly trained flight attendants are not around to open the door you shall be the one to do so and assist the passengers in case of emergencies….
    maybe other passengers did over react to the situation and those seated in the emergency exit rows did not read the card….even ordinary aisle or window seats have directions in the cards placed in there seats…..

    we always hope for a safe and happy flight….

    if ever you do not understand seating in an exit row seat you may ask your check in agent or the supervisor….

  1. 1 Boeing Released Warning AD On 737 NG Bolt Folowing Air China Plane Fire « Airline world Trackback on August 29, 2007 at 10:19 am

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