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Taiwan seeks safer Asian skies

Taiwan has had no direct contact with the International Civil Aviation Organization since it was excluded from the organization in 1971, yet over 200,000 Koreans traveled to Taiwan last year.

“In order to ensure the safety of international air transport within the Taipei Flight Information Region, Taiwan’s civil aviation authority has nevertheless followed, to the best of its abilities, the rules established by the Convention on International Civil Aviation,” said Representative of Taipei Mission Liang Ying-ping.

For the past four decades, Taiwan has had to seek information from indirect channels in order to comply with ICAO standards.
 
Taipei International Airport (Yoav Cerralbo/The Korea Herald)
Taipei International Airport (Yoav Cerralbo/The Korea Herald)

Liang explained that Taipei was an indispensable link in East Asia’s air traffic network. He hopes that Taiwan will be invited to the ICAO’s meetings as an observer so as to ensure that they can be kept informed of new ICAO’s regulations and standards.

“As an observer, Taiwan would be able to gather sufficient and accurate information, so that we could revise our national civil aviation regulations and comply with the international standards in a comprehensive and timely manner,” said Liang.

Last year, the United States, one of Taiwan’s closest allies, expressed explicit support for Taiwan’s bid to take part in the ICAO.

Incomplete ICAO information creates difficulties for Taiwan’s efforts to comply with international standards. Furthermore, most ICAO documents on civil aviation security are confidential or restricted, and are not easily available.

“This makes it difficult for Taiwan to even be aware of new security measures, much less implement them smoothly,” Liang said.

An example was the introduction of enhanced security measures on liquids, aerosols and gels in cabin luggage in 2007.

“Taiwan had no information about this,” he said. “Due to the absence of timely and detailed information, confusion ensued which led to complaints by passengers. In the end, it was Taiwan’s airlines and their overseas branch offices that eventually helped clear up the confusion.”

Even though Taiwan is not an ICAO member, it handles 49 carriers flying more than 1 million flights over its flight information zone every year.

“Taiwan’s participation will substantially boost ICAO’s pursuit of safe, regular, efficient and economical air transport,” he said.

By Yoav Cerralbo (yoav@heraldcorp.com)
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