The human factor and the weather might be to blame for a military helicopter crash that last month killed eight military personnel, including chief of the general staff general Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴), the air force said yesterday.
The UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter was on its way to a base in Yilan County’s Dongao (東澳) for a pre-Lunar New Year inspection on Jan. 2 when it went down in the mountains of New Taipei City’s Wulai District (烏來) with 13 people on board.
Citing a preliminary investigation, the air force said that it has ruled out mechanical failure as the main cause of the crash, after Sikorsky Aircraft Corp, the helicopter’s manufacturer, last week provided a comprehensive analysis of the two data recorders retrieved from the wreckage.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
It said that preliminary findings have shown that the cause of the crash was most likely related to human error and the weather.
The pilot tried to pull up to gain visibility after encountering a thick layer of cloud that suddenly formed in the area between Pinglin District (坪林) and Yilan, the air force said.
The helicopter’s cockpit voice recorder last picked up a loud thud followed by what sounded like rotors clipping a tree a few seconds after 8:07am, before the recording stopped, it said.
At the time of the crash, the helicopter was 3,551m above sea level and 87m from the ground, it added.
Twelve seconds before impact, the copilot twice told the pilot to watch out for altitude, according to the recorder, the air force said.
The helicopter was flown by lieutenant colonel Yeh Chien-yi (葉建儀) and copilot captain Liu Chen-fu (劉鎮富), who were both killed in the accident.
The other five killed were Political Warfare Bureau deputy director major general Yu Chin-wen (于親文), Intelligence Staff Office deputy assistant major general Hung Hung-chun (洪鴻鈞), major Huang Sheng-hang (黃聖航) of the Office of the Chief of the General Staff, chief master sergeant Han Cheng-hung (韓正宏) and crew chief master sergeant Hsu Hung-pin (許鴻彬).
A final report on the crash would be released later, the air force said.
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