Sun, Sep 27, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Jet wreckage found, two dead

SCATTERED:The bodies of the two missing pilots from Tuesday’s crash have been found and crash investigations are set to begin with an air force led task force to be formed

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The bodies of the two missing pilots have been found by a search party inside the wreckage of their AT-3 trainer jet in a mountainous area of central Taiwan. The air force said that an Aviation Safety and Accident Investigation Committee has been set up to investigate the cause of the crash.

Air Force Command Headquarters officials said that crews onboard a CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter saw the fuselage of the twin-engine AT-3 trainer jet at 6:38am yesterday.

The wreckage was found in thick forest on a mountain slope about 2,743m above sea level.

The wreckage was near the 3,785m Mabolasi Mountain (馬博拉斯山), close to the border of Nantou and Hualien counties and about 3km northwest of the aircraft’s last known radar position when it lost contact with air traffic controllers at about midday on Tuesday.

Unable to land in the mountainous terrain, members of army’s special forces rappelled from the helicopter into an area near the crash site at 6:43am yesterday to carry out a ground search.

“They reported finding the bodies of the two pilots in the cockpit of the aircraft’s fuselage at 12:50pm yesterday,” military officials said.

The two pilots, Major Wang Ching-chu (王勁鈞), 32, and First Lieutenant Huang Chun-jung (黃俊榮), 23, were on a training session aboard the AT-3 aircraft when it disappeared off the radar screen at about midday on Tuesday.

They took off from the Air Force Academy in Kaohsiung City’s Gangshan District (岡山) at about 11:55am to perform instrument flying training, but lost contact at about 12:24pm.

The Ministry of National Defense issued a statement saying that Air Force Command Headquarters would be responsible for initiating an aviation safety and accident investigation committee which is to investigate the cause of the crash.

A prosecutor from the Hualien Prosecutors’ Office surveyed the crash site from the air on-board a military helicopter yesterday afternoon to assist in the committee’s investigation.

Defense ministry officials said a military helicopter was dispatched yesterday afternoon to retrieve the pilots’ bodies, but the mission could not be carried out due to a change in weather conditions. They are to make another attempt today, officals said.

The defense ministry has mobilized 1,100 military personnel since Tuesday and 79 aircraft sorties, using CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter, S-70C Seagull helicopter, EC-225 Super Puma helicopter, RF-5E reconnaissance jet and E-2K early warning aircraft for the mission.

Observers aboard search operation aircraft said the fuselage parts were scattered in places, and there seemed to be scorch marks on rocky outcrops, indicating the AT-3 had crashed on the mountain slope.

Air force officials confirmed the two pilots had not ejected from their seats, and were most likely killed on impact during the crash.

“The pilots’ bodies are being guarded for now by the members of the army’s special forces who arrived first on the scene,” Air Force Academy deputy head Huang Chih-wei (黃志偉) said yesterday. “Another troop unit will reach the crash site tomorrow to conduct follow-up work and gather evidence for the investigation.”

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