Mon, Jan 05, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Ultralight crash kills two people

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Officials from the Aviation Safety Council yesterday inspect the remains of an ultralight aircraft that crashed in Kaoshu Township in Pingtung County on Saturday.

PHOTO: CNA

Officials form the Aviation Safety Council traveled to the Nanhua airfield for ultralight aircraft in Kaoshu Township (高樹), Pingtung County, yesterday to investigate the circumstances surrounding a crash by a an ultralight that resulted in two deaths on Saturday.

An official said the airfield, the ultralight and the pilot all violated the law.

After half a day of investigation, council officials said further evaluation was required to determine whether mechanical failure or human error caused the crash.

Officials said that although the pilot, a man surnamed Hu (胡), had more than 20 years experience flying ultralight aircraft and worked as an instructor, he was not licensed to fly the aircraft.

The only pertinent license he was a three-year-old temporary license issued at an international air festival in Taoyuan County, officials said.

The aircraft was also unlicensed, as was the airfield, the officials said.

The officials said that although there are locations in Taiwan where ultralight aircraft can take off and land legally, not many people have licenses to fly them and very few of the aircraft themselves are licensed.

The main reason is that most hobbyists feel it is too difficult to obtain such licenses, the officials said.

The airfield is located on a river bed close to fruit orchards, pineapple and melon fields.

Because many accidents have occurred over the past seven or eight years, residents of Nanhua Village have said they were worried about getting injured, and township and village leaders had reached an agreement with pilots and paragliders that they not fly over the village.

A township representative said yesterday that it was fortunate there were no farmers working in the field at the time of Saturday’s crash.

The crash occurred in a pumpkin field full of large rocks. A farmer who witnessed the crash said he heard a loud noise from the engine and then saw the ultralight fall from a height roughly equivalent to a seven or eight-story building.

The farmer said that when he arrived at the site of the crash, Hu and his female passenger, a woman surnamed Wu (吳), had already stopped breathing.

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