Fri, Feb 09, 2018 - Page 0 News List

Missing helicopter’s location still unknown

By Lee Hsin-fang and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

The exact location of a UH-60 Black Hawk that went missing on Monday night off the coast of Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) while transporting a patient has yet to be determined, Deputy Minister of the Interior Chiu Chang-yueh (邱昌嶽) said yesterday morning.

Members of an Aviation Safety Council (ASC) ad hoc investigation team were only yesterday able to begin operations in the waters with the help of the Coast Guard Administration, ASC Executive Director Thomas Wang (王興中) said.

The team had arrived in Taitung County on Tuesday, but poor weather conditions prevented them from traveling to Orchid Island, he said.

They first deployed a hydrophone where the helicopter disappeared from radar, Wang said, adding that the device must be within 1 nautical mile (1.85km) of the missing aircraft in order to detect signals transmitted by its black box.

Air traffic control radar data showed that the Black Hawk went missing in an area of the ocean that is about 800m to 1km deep, the ASC said, adding that the search would be difficult.

An oceanic trench in the area is very deep, with the shallowest regions more than 800m below water, Chiu said.

Microwave signals sent by the helicopter might be blocked by sand and rocks, so instruments above the water will likely be unable to receive them, he said.

The signals only last for 30 days, Chiu said, adding that the signals would become weaker with time.

The number of personnel assigned to the search-and-rescue operation has not been reduced, but rather increased, he said.

“We are not giving up and will use all of our energy to search for and recover the helicopter, so that the family members of the missing crew and passengers can rest,” Chiu said.

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