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Sat, Mar 04, 2000 - Page 4 News List

Cooperation plan to help investigate plane crashes

AVIATON SAFETY The civilian Aviation Safety Council will work with the military to uncover the causes of accidents and make safety a top priority

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Representatives from Taiwan's military yesterday signed an agreement with the Executive Yuan's Aviation Safety Council (ASC), under which they agreed to cooperate in investigations into flight mishaps involving both military and civilian aircraft.

The move follows a series of recent crashes involving second-generation fighter planes, including four US-made F-16s and two French-made Mirages, military officials said.

"The military is seeking to establish a sound flight safety enhancement system covering areas including routine training, security measures, and probing flight accidents through the assistance of the civilian sector," said Lieutenant General Hsieh Chien-tung (謝建東), director of the joint operation, training and inspection department of the Ministry of National Defense (MND).

"We looked to the ASC mainly because it has highly specialized personnel and advanced equipment for use in the field," Hsieh said.

"We hope that through ACS assistance, the military can produce more authoritative and objective investigation reports regarding accidents involving its aircraft," he said.

"We also hope to bring flight safety in the armed forces to an advanced level through this cooperation," he added.

The ASC is an independent governmental agency established in 1998 to handle investigations into serious civilian flight mishaps.

Its regular staff is small, but recruits contract specialists to jointly inquire into flight accidents on a case-by-case basis.

During yesterday's signing ceremony, the ASC presented its "black box" laboratory -- the only one of its kind in the country -- which uses computer simulators to reconstruct flight accident scenarios through data retrieved from flight data recorders in crashed planes.

The computer simulators can create three-dimensional animated scenes, adopting a RAPS system developed by the US military for use in probing crashes involving military aircraft.

The cooperation between the ASC and the military began last year following the crash of an F-16 jet fighter, with the most recent cooperation looking into a Mirage which crashed into the sea last October shortly after taking off from a Hsinchu air base.

An ASC-assisted investigation into the Mirage crash confirmed initial suspicions that it had been caused by the intake of a bird into an engine -- which has been a serious problem at military air bases across the country.

DPP Lawmaker Stephen Chung (鍾金江) expressed hopes that mishaps in the air, especially those in the military in recent years, could be considerably reduced through cooperation between the military and ASC.

"I hope the cooperation will be more than mere lip-service in the future, as has been the case for many other similar projects undertaken by the government in the past," Chung said.

"Both the military and the ASC should go beyond departmental egotism, now widely existing in other governmental departments, to work toward a common goal," Chung said.

Jung Kai (戎凱), an ASC executive, said the council will try to its best to help the military uncover the causes of flight accidents and enhance its flight safety standards.

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