told to hand over crash data
throws out SIA's petition that documents are confidential, stressing
the need to facilitate the discovery process
A LOS Angeles court has ordered
Singapore Airlines (SIA) to surrender several documents relating
to the SQ 006 crash in Taipei to the Chicago-based Nolan Law Group.
The law firm represents 44 survivors and their families,
including several Singaporeans and SIA crew members, and has accused
the airline of withholding the documents.
These contain information from the flight data recorder; names,
addresses and statements of eye-witnesses; notes from SIA employees
involved in the crash investigation; statements from crew members
and notes from interviews with them; maintenance records and
training video tapes.
The airline sent in a
petition to the United States court saying that it was not going to
hand in the documents because the information they contained was
It also claimed that, under guidelines of the International Civil
Aviation Organisation (ICAO), it was not obliged to hand the papers
over to the Nolan Group.
But the court threw out the petition early yesterday morning
The airline now has two options: To appeal or comply with the
Mr Donald Nolan, the law firm's principal trial lawyer, said that
SIA has 28 days from the time the judgment was filed in court to
In a telephone interview with The Straits Times shortly after the
court proceedings ended, he said: 'We have gathered more than 30,000
pages of documents to date, but the most important documents have
not yet been produced.'
None of his clients have taken up SIA's compensation offer of
US$400,000 (S$713,000) for the families of those who died, and
US$20,000 for survivors of the crash.
In all, 83 passengers and crew were killed when SQ 006 crashed
while taking off from Taipei's Chiang Kai-shek International Airport
on Oct 31, 2000.
The plane was carrying 179 passengers, 28 of them Singaporeans.
The Boeing 747-400 burst into flames and broke into three pieces
when it ploughed into a concrete block and a construction crane on
In rejecting the
airline's petition yesterday, the court ruled that the ICAO
guidelines did not apply because Taiwan, which conducted the
investigations, was not a member of the body.
Mr Nolan said that the US magistrate also found that
facilitating the discovery process was more
important than maintaining confidentiality.
When contacted, SIA would only say: 'We do not comment on matters
Meanwhile, SQ 006 pilot Foong Chee Kong, 43, has also been
ordered to appear in a Los Angeles court to give a deposition, where
his testimony will be taken down in writing under oath.
So far, said Mr Nolan, he has not made an appearance. The lawyer
claimed that it was because the pilot feared incriminating himself.
But now that the Taiwanese authorities have said that they will
not prosecute the pilots, a source close to Captain Foong said:
'He'll very likely go to Los Angeles to give his deposition, but I
don't know when this might be.'
Asked if it would produce the pilot for the deposition, SIA
declined to comment.