Brent Hannon/TAIPEI

Pilot error, bad weather, and poor airport maintenance contributed to the fatal 31 October 2000 Singapore Airlines SQ006 Boeing 747-400 accident at Taipei's Chiang Kai-shek (CKS) International airport, according to the Taiwan Aviation Safety Council (ASC) Factual Data Collection Report.

The aircraft attempted to take off from the wrong runway, hitting heavy runway repair equipment parked on it. ASC chief investigator Kay Yong says this report presents only facts, and the next step will be to determine the primary cause of the accident.

The report says the pilots - Capt Foong Chee Kong and co-pilots Latif Cyrano and Ng Kheng Leng - had asked to use the longer 05L rather than runway 06, on the opposite side of the passenger terminal, which Singapore Airlines normally uses. The request was made because of strong wind and heavy rain caused by an approaching typhoon. It had been more than two years since Foong had taken off from Runway 05L.

The three pilots confirmed five times with the control tower that they were cleared to take off on runway 05L. They had also been informed pre-flight that runway 05R was closed and was only to be used as a taxiway. One of the lights leading to runway 05L was broken, while another was dimmer than the other lights, says the report. These lights were located just after the spot where the Los Angeles-bound flight turned onto the wrong runway. International standards dictate that the lights should have been lit in an unbroken straight line, said Yong. Both co-pilots suggested that Captain Foong check the Para-Visual Display (Flight International, 27 February - 5 March) prior to take-off. In the report, Ng says he was prepared to tell Foong not to take off if the PVD was not activated, however he did not do so. Yong says that CKS airport failed to meet international safety standards. For example there are no guard lights - flashing yellow lights where the taxiway meets the runway, indicating that the runway is inactive. CKS also has no interlock devices on its runway light systems, which ensure that conflicting systems are not activated at the same time.

SQ006 attempted take-off from 05R at 23:17h, crashing after it hit concrete barriers and building equipment, killing 83 people.

Source: Flight International