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November 30, 2011

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Unsanctioned takeoff by Chinese airliner

JAPAN'S air watchdog is investigating an apparently hazardous take-off by a Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines plane, which was done against permission of the airport control tower.

The Japanese air traffic authority said it seeks to find out exactly why the Chinese plane appeared to have ignored the order to stay on hold on the runway and took off instead on Monday. China Eastern officials said yesterday they had already contacted the Japanese authority conducting the probe.

The Japanese air traffic authority said the Chinese plane, carrying 240 passengers, took off about 1:45pm from the Kansai Airport. Minutes before, the terminal tower had ordered the plane to wait on the runway, said the Japanese authority, which said the order was delivered in English.

But the Chinese plane suddenly took off and left the airport when the traffic controllers moved on to communicate with the pilot of a helicopter, said the Japanese authority.

The Japanese watchdog said that judging by the result, the Chinese plane's takeoff did not create a safety issue. But investigators want to know, among other things, whether the pilots deliberately ignored the order or the incident was caused by a communication lapse.

So far, the Japanese authority has not mentioned any possible punishment.


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