Taiwan, Nov. 4 -- Singapore Airlines said Friday it accepted full responsibility for a crash in Taiwan that killed 81 people, saying pilot error led the Boeing 747-400 down the wrong runway.
“They are our pilots. That was our aircraft. The aircraftshould not be on that runway. We accept full responsibility,” said Singapore Airlines chief executive and deputy chairman Cheong Choong Kong at a news conference Friday.
The announcement came after Yong Kay, Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council managing director, said the jumbo jet’s pilot knew that he was on the wrong runway when he started to take off. Yong said when the pilot realized — at the last moment — that he was on a strip closed for repairs, he tried to lift off, but instead plowed into construction equipment.
Yong said the information came from the aircraft’s black box recordings.
In a specific account of what happened during the crash, investigators said the plane slammed into a concrete barrier and construction equipment before exploding in a fireball.
Investigators believe the plane first slammed into theconcrete barrier, one meter high by about a meter and a halfwide, which marked the beginning of the construction zone. Senior Taoyuan county prosecutor Song Kuo-yeh said theplane also struck two pieces of construction equipment. “According to factual data, this Singapore Airlines planeused runway 5 Right to take off... This means it went down the wrong runway,” Kay said.
The plane was supposed to take off from runway 5 Left, and had received clearance to depart from 5 Left.
The pilot repeated the correct clearance to the control tower, sources said.
Five Left runs parallel to 5 Right, where most of the debris from the plane was found. A distance of 800 feet separates the two runways.
In a live interview with ETTV cable TV news, Soong said the plane crashed after hitting two cranes being used to repair the closed runway during the day.