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September 28, 2011

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Authority launches foreign pilot checks

FOREIGN pilots with local airlines are having their qualifications and regulatory knowledge checked, after a South Korean pilot last month refused to give way to a jet running low on fuel.

Juneyao Airlines, one of whose pilots was at the center of the controversy on August 13, is the first airline to be inspected by Shanghai's civil aviation regulator.

Six Shanghai airlines, including China Eastern Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Juneyao and Spring Airlines, employ 219 foreign pilots.

The inspection is a part of a routine program that includes both foreign and domestic pilots, said an official of the East China Regional Administration under the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

In this instance, only foreign pilots are being inspected.

The regulator will also check pilot training and management and the professional ethics of pilots by the end of next month, said the official.

"The regulator often conducts this type of inspection among foreign pilots and asks airlines to provide additional training," said a spokesman for Spring Airlines.

Shanghai Airlines said it had pre-empted the examination. "We have already launched an education program for foreign pilots in the wake of the Juneyao case," the airline's press official said.

In last month's incident, a Juneyao pilot refused to give way to a Qatar Airways flight that was running low on fuel as both aircraft waited to land at Shanghai's Hongqiao International Airport.

The pilot has been banned from flying an aircraft as a crew member in China for life, while the co-pilot's license suspended for six months.

China has more than 1,300 foreign pilots from around 20 countries, including the United States, Brazil, South Korea and Canada, said Li Jiaxiang, director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.


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