Sat, Jul 11, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Kinmen helicopter crash kills co-pilot, one missing

ONGOING INVESTIGATIONS Yesterday morning’s accident was the second involving a Sunrise Airlines MBB/Kawasaki BK-117 B-1 helicopter in little more than a year

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

A helicopter belonging to Sunrise Airlines crashed into the sea off the coast of Kinmen yesterday, killing one person on board.

Copilot Wu Chao-gang (吳照剛), 55, was dead on arrival at hospital in Kinmen while a paramedic on board, Hsu Huang-mao (許煥懋), 33, was still missing as of press time.

The Aviation Safety Council (ASC) said in a statement yesterday that the helicopter had just delivered a patient to Taipei before flying back to Kinmen. The helicopter, an MBB/Kawasaki BK-117 B-1, lost contact with control tower personnel at around 4:20am.

Kinmen Airport then called the fire department, the Coast Guard Administration and the National Rescue Center to try to locate the missing helicopter, the statement said.

The helicopter’s pilot Chao Chang-rui (趙長瑞), 52, survived the crash and was found by the rescue team at around 5:50am.

It was the second accident involving a Sunrise helicopter in little more than a year. The ASC confirmed that both helicopters were MBB/Kawasaki BK-117 B-1’s.

Meanwhile, the ASC has dispatched a team to Kinmen to conduct further investigations into the accident.

Investigator Lee Bao-kang (李寶康) said the team would start searching for the cockpit voice recorder, also known as the black box, today.

“The tide is a bit strong at this time of the year,” Lee said. “The accident happened about 1 nautical mile [1.85km] off the coast of Kinmen. We will try to locate the signals transmitted by the black box and attempt to recover it.”

Sunrise held a press conference yesterday morning, apologizing to the public and family members for the loss.

Sunrise said the last maintenance of the helicopter was done on April 10. It had been in use for 18 years.

Chao joined Sunrise in 1992 while Wu started working for Sunrise in 2005.

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