Taiwan is so worried about its air transport safety image that it has added a new watchdog agency to a lengthening list of political reactions to recent crashes.

The Government controlled Central News Agency (CNA), says Taiwan is to have an organisation based on the USA's National Transportation Safety Board to probe accidents and incidents and advise the Government direct.

Moves are under way to consult foreign experts and draw up terms of reference for the new organisation, says the CNA. The rush to react was precipitated after the 16 February China Airlines (CAL)Airbus Industrie A300-600R crash, which killed 202 people, and the 18 March Formosa Airlines Saab 340 crash in which all 13 on board died.

CAL suffered an A300-600R disaster at Nagoya, Japan, in April 1994 when 264 people died, and Formosa Airlines has had six serious accidents since the early 1990s.

Reactions have included the resignation of the previous transport minister, an increase in Civil Aeronautics Administration inspectors, stricter penalties and higher fines for non-compliance with safety standards and grounding of CAL A300s and Formosa 340s while the fleets and pilots were checked.

Source: Flight International