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SIA plane in Taipei airport mishap

Staff and wires

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A Singapore Airlines passenger jet has taken off from Taipei's international airport after hitting construction equipment.

Flight SQ29 took the wrong taxi route at Chiang Kai-shek International Airport, with the Boeing 747-400's wing hitting two pieces of equipment, according to Taiwanese aviation officials.

Officials say the control tower notified the pilot of the collision, but the pilot decided to carry on, landing safely at Singapore's Changi airport on Friday afternoon.

While the mishap was relatively minor, it may raise new questions about Taipei's airport, which investigators said played a role in a deadly Singapore Airlines accident in October 2000.

In that crash, flight SQ006 taxied down a runway that was closed for repairs and smashed into equipment and debris, killing 83 of the 179 people on board.

Mixed reaction to report on 2002 crash from families Asia
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A report by Taiwan investigators blamed pilot error and bad weather as the chief probable cause, even though the lighting and signage did not meet international standards.

Singapore Airlines disputed some of the findings, singling out several flaws at the airport, which they said played a "critical role" in the crash.

Almost hit building

On Friday, Flight SQ29 took a wrong turn into a parking area and almost hit a maintenance building, Kay Yong, managing director of the Aviation Safety Council, told The Associated Press.

"It was only a few feet away" from the building, Yong said.

The plane knocked down two tailstands -- platforms that help steady planes when cargo is being loaded and unloaded, Yong said.

Workers saw the incident and reported it to airport officials, but by the time the control tower notified the pilots, the plane was already in the air, he said.

A Singapore Airlines statement said the pilots learned of the accident about 15 minutes after takeoff and after carrying out in-flight checks of the plane, flew on to Singapore.

After arriving in Singapore, "some minor damage to a wing panel was detected," the airline said.

While the statement did not refer to the route the plane took before takeoff, it said the company and Singaporean officials were interviewing the flight crew.

Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration plans to conduct a probe.

SIA's flawless record was shattered by the fiery accident in 2000, its first fatal accident in about three decades of service.


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