A UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter that crashed on Thursday, killing eight military officers including the chief of the general staff, is unlikely to have gone down due to mechanical failure or weather, a Taiwan Transportation Safety Board official said yesterday.
Based on a preliminary investigation of the helicopter’s two flight data recorders, mechanical failure could be 80 percent ruled out as the cause, while weather, including elements such as turbulence and wind shear, could be 80 to 90 percent excluded, the official said.
However, the flight recorders contain a memory card that can only be decoded by the aircraft’s US-based manufacturer, they said.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
The card is to be sent to Sikorsky Aircraft Corp, as it contains important data about the helicopter’s mechanical systems and its operational handling, the bureau said.
Mechanical failure could be completely ruled only after the information is retrieved from the recorder, the official said, adding that the possibility of human error was also being considered.
The helicopter, carrying military personnel to Dongaoling Base (東澳嶺) in Yilan County, went down in the mountains of New Taipei City’s Wulai District (烏來) on Thursday with 13 people on board. Eight, including Chief of the General Staff General Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴), died in the crash.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
Military investigators extracted the flight recorders at about 10:40am the following day.
The Air Force Command Headquarters yesterday said it has received the recorders from the bureau and would hand them over to an investigation task force.
Citing the Air Force Flight and Ground Safety Regulations (空軍飛行及地面安全教範), the headquarters said that the task force must compare the recorder data with weather patterns, flight path data, the helicopter’s flight plan, record transcripts and maintenance records before preparing a final report.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
The headquarters also called on the media to avoid reporting unverified information, as the analysis and investigation would take some time.
Meanwhile, members of the public poured into the Taipei Guest House to pay their respects to the dead officers.
In addition to Shen, the deceased officers were Political Warfare Bureau Deputy Director Major General Yu Chin-wen (于親文), Major General Hung Hung-chun (洪鴻鈞) of the Office of the Deputy Chief of the General Staff for Intelligence, Major Huang Sheng-hang (黃聖航) of the Office of the Chief of the General Staff, Chief Master Sergent Han Cheng-hung (韓正宏), pilot Lieutenant Colonel Yeh Chien-yi (葉建儀), copilot Captain Liu Chen-fu (劉鎮富) and crew chief Master Sergeant Hsu Hung-pin (許鴻彬).
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
Dressed in uniform, a member of the armed forces expressed grief over the loss of Shen, saying that he had been his commanding officer when he served at the Ministry of National Defense and had always cared for him.
Political Warfare Bureau staff officer Lieutenant Colonel Lee Chun-feng (李均峰) said that he had just been promoted by Yu and reported to the bureau on the day of the accident.
“I never thought I would never have a chance to report to Yu directly,” he said.
An animation created by members of the brigade in which Yu had originally served to wish him a happy Lunar New Year later this month had no use now, he added.
On a bulletin board dedicated to Hsu were two unsigned notes that said: “Dad, let’s play with your cellphone next time,” and “I love you, dad.”
Other notes left by Hsu’s colleagues and friends said: “The mission is over. Good work,” and “Thank you for what you have done for the nation.”
His father, weeping, said that Yeh, who was his first son, had on Wednesday called his mother “to wish her a happy birthday, yet the following day he was gone.”
Liu’s friends and relatives also mourned him, saying that he was raised by a single parent and had gotten married just last year.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) visited the guest house after inspecting the Dongaoling radar station, where Shen had been scheduled to visit, to boost the morale of military personnel stationed there.
Tsai posted on the board dedicated to the deceased officers sticky notes written by military personnel stationed at the station who asked the president to post them on their behalf.
A formal public service is to be held on Jan. 14 at the Songshan Air Force Base in Taipei, the ministry said.
Separately yesterday, a ceremony was held at Wei-Shui’s Hill (渭水之丘) in Yilan County, followed by a rite to comfort the spirits of the deceased, which was attended by more than 1,000 people.
Additional reporting by Peng Wan-hsin
FLIGHT RISK? The driver of the truck that slid onto the tracks, causing the crash, was released on NT$500,000 bail, but prosecutors have requested that he be detained Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday listed three priorities in response to the deadliest accident involving a Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) train in the past 40 years: rescuing the injured, clearing the single-track tunnel and assisting the families of the victims. Taroko Express No. 408, traveling from New Taipei City to Taitung on Friday morning, derailed as it entered the Cingshuei Tunnel (清水隧道) in Hualien’s Sioulin Township (秀林). Of the 496 people on board, including four TRA personnel, 51 had died and 188 were injured as of 7pm yesterday, after the train hit a crane truck that had slid down a slope
IN A HURRY: The 199,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine expire on May 31, so the CECC might expand vaccine eligibility, but distribution would begin in a week at the earliest The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines allocated to Taiwan through the COVAX global vaccine-sharing program arrived yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said, adding that, after testing, it would be able to distribute them by Monday next week at the earliest. The 199,200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were shipped from Amsterdam on a China Airlines (中華航空) plane and arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 5:21am. After the cargo was examined and release procedures were completed at the airport, the Aviation Police Bureau escorted the vehicles carrying the vaccines to a cold chain storage facility. Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General
HEATED TRAFFIC: As Beijing holds naval drills near Taiwan, the Ministry of National Defense said it had a full grasp of the situation and would handle it ‘appropriately’ A Chinese carrier group exercising near Taiwan is part of what are to be regular drills, the Chinese navy said in a statement late on Monday, further escalating tensions between Taipei and Beijing. The group, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, was conducting “routine” drills in the waters around Taiwan, a move to “enhance its capability to safeguard national sovereignty, safety and development interests,” the statement said. “Similar exercises will be conducted regularly,” it said, without elaborating. The statement came after the Ministry of National Defense earlier on Monday issued a statement regarding a rise in the number of incursions by Chinese jets into
AIMED AT TAIWAN? Institute for National Defense and Security Research research fellow Ou Si-fu said chips can be ‘bought off the shelf’ and then used in weapons The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday said that chips from Taiwanese semiconductor companies were not making their way into Chinese missiles “to the best of our knowledge.” A report in yesterday’s Washington Post alleged that a Chinese company named Phytium Technology Co (飛騰) used chips made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), along with US software, in advanced Chinese military systems. “TSMC has long placed strict controls on their chips. The export of high-tech products from Taiwan is also highly regulated,” Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said. “According to our understanding, none of the end uses for those products