Thu, Oct 23, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Air force grounds all AT-3 aircraft after fatal crash

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Following the death of a 37-year-old pilot in a crash in an AT-3 training aircraft on Tuesday, the air force has grounded all AT-3 aircraft and suspended their flight missions for the foreseeable future.

Some officials called for cutting the number of aerial acrobatic shows, saying the AT-3 squadron and its aircraft may have been burdened by having to perform at too many events.

Wang Hsuan-chou (汪旋周), director of the political warfare department at Air Force Command Headquarters, yesterday said a task force has been set up to investigate Tuesday’s crash, which killed the pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Chuang Pei-yuan (莊倍源).

Wang also revised the initial crash report yesterday.

“We inspected the accident site today and found that Chuang did not eject from the plane. He was dislodged from the plane by the impact of the crash. His body was found about 20m away from the main fuselage,” Wang said.

Air force headquarters released a press statement on Tuesday afternoon, only hours after the crash, according to which Chuang “tried to parachute to safety before the plane crashed, but ejected at too low an altitude and his parachute never fully opened.”

Wang also announced that all AT-3 aircraft have been grounded, and all training sessions and flight missions for the Thunder Tiger Aerobatics Team suspended.

Air force officials said safety is the top priority and all operating aircraft at the two air bases on the east coast were taken in for inspection and maintenance checks after Tuesday’s crash, while nighttime training runs have been canceled.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) yesterday recommended that fewer aerial acrobatics performances be scheduled.

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