Tags: 747 | Was | Wrong | Runway | Likely | Hit | Barrier

747 Was on Wrong Runway, Likely Hit Barrier

Friday, 03 November 2000 12:00 AM

''From the crash scene, it's very easy to see that the plane had mistakenly used the wrong runway where there were scraps of steel and two construction cranes,'' said Song Kuo-yeh , a prosecutor at the Taoyuan County district office where the Chiang Kai-shek Airport is located.

The pilot has said he hit something.

''We are deeply shocked and devastated at the conclusions that have been reached,'' Singapore Airlines spokesman Rick Clements told reporters in Singapore, after learning of the prosecutor's statements.

At least 81 of the 179 people aboard Flight SQ006 from Taipei to Los Angeles died after the 747-400 broke into pieces and caught fire. At least 23 of the dead were U.S. residents.

The jet's flight crewmembers were among the survivors. Song also said pilot Chee Kong Foong was being kept in Taiwan for questioning during the investigation into the crash.

Investigators have found no wreckage on the runway where the jet was supposed to take off, said Kay Yong, the top investigator at Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council.

That runway, 5L, also had no skid marks from the jet, Yong said Thursday.

Flight SQ006 came to rest on a shorter parallel runway that was closed for construction. That runway is several hundred feet from the runway that the jet was supposed to use.

Investigators also have found no evidence that the jet skidded across the grassy strip between the two runways.

Charred wreckage was found scattered across the runway under repair, known as 5R.

''Wreckage distribution was concentrated around the construction site. Very few pieces were outside, and no parts'' were on the other runway, Yong said.

Yong declined to say what the evidence might mean, but sources familiar with the investigation said it appears that the pilot accidentally turned onto the wrong runway as rain from an approaching typhoon pounded the airport.

The jet was traveling at 145 mph when the accident occurred, Yong said.

Preliminary evidence from the cockpit voice recorder indicates that the pilot uttered an exclamation at about the time of impact. Because of the heavy rain, controllers in the airport tower could not see the jet.

The airport does not have ground radar, which would have allowed controllers to track the 747. Controllers cleared the pilot for takeoff.

''He said several times that he was on'' the right runway, said Abram Huang, deputy director general of Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration.

If the pilot turned the wrong way, Huang said, ''nobody would know.''

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''From the crash scene, it's very easy to see that the plane had mistakenly used the wrong runway where there were scraps of steel and two construction cranes,'' said Song Kuo-yeh , a prosecutor at the Taoyuan County district office where the Chiang Kai-shek Airport is...
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2000-00-03
Friday, 03 November 2000 12:00 AM
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