TransAsia flight delayed when support vehicle damages aircraft

Taipei, Aug. 19 (CNA) A TransAsia Airways flight bound for Macau was delayed for 90 minutes at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Tuesday after suffering damage from a ground support vehicle. The delay of flight GE-351, which was scheduled to take off at 9:45 a.m., affected over 60 passengers, as well as the return flight from Macau, the carrier complained, blaming the accident on a badly trained hydraulic lift truck operator employed by Taoyuan International Airport Services Co. (TIAS). A surveillance video shows that the operator did not follow standard procedure and had the hydraulic lift raised excessively, causing it to puncture the skin of the plane's fuselage and leaving a 10 cm-diameter hole. TransAsia said that because of the damage, the company had to deploy another plane to make the Taipei-Macau flight. The losses to the company will be substantial, as the damaged plane must be grounded for repair, in addition to the cost of the repair itself, it added. TIAS offered an apology and expressed regret for the damage. It also promised to strengthen personnel training so that there is no repeat of similar accidents. (By Bien Chin-feng and Elizabeth Hsu)