Wed, Mar 07, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Safety report criticizes NASC

MINIMUM STANDARDS:The Black Hawk manual is written in English, but the NASC does not evaluate the English-language proficiency of its maintenance crew

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Lax helicopter maintenance and a lack of flight safety oversight contributed to an incident in which two National Airborne Service Corp (NASC) personnel were injured when they fell into the sea during a training session last year, an Aviation Safety Council report released on Monday said.

The NASC has had 11 incidents involving its helicopters in the past 16 years, including the Black Hawk helicopter that went missing on Feb. 5.

On June 30 last year, a NASC Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk was used in search-and-rescue training near off the coast of Taichung.

Two personnel fell into the sea when the winch that was used to haul them from the ocean disconnected. The two rescuers sustained injuries, the council said.

The winch had been moved and was slanted, maybe because of an impact by an external force, the report said.

Maintenance personnel failed to correctly install a nut which is used to fasten the winch, the council said, adding that safety inspectors also failed to identify the problem.

These issues caused a screw linking the winch and the nut to fall off, which led to the separation of the hook-and-hoist system, the report said.

The NASC did not send trained inspectors to oversee the maintenance of the helicopters, it said.

The Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk maintenance manual is written in English, but the NASC has yet to stipulate standards to evaluate the English-language proficiency of its maintenance crew, the report said.

The NASC also failed to properly store the helicopter maintenance manual and that for the hook-and-hoist system in the chopper, it said, adding that this would impede the work of maintenance crews and the proper training of new maintenance workers.

“Taiwan lacks regulations to oversee the operations of aircraft used for rescue missions or other government business, and does not have basic aviation safety rules that pilots operating these aircraft have to follow,” the report said. “Instead, the NASC stipulates its own safety standards, operating procedures and management mechanism. It can then lower safety standards depending on the cost, the purpose of a given task and performance requirements.”

The Ministry of the Interior should set up an agency to oversee the NASC, the report added.

Apart from regulating standard operating procedures, and reinforcing training for maintenance crews and inspectors, the ministry should require that maintenance workers have a certain level of English-language proficiency so they understand the maintenance manuals, it said.

An agency should also be established to govern the safety of the aircraft used for government business, it added.

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