Salvaging the wreckage of a UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter that crashed last month while transporting a patient from Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) could take two to three months, Aviation Safety Council Chairman Hwung Hwung-hweng (黃煌煇) told lawmakers yesterday.
Hwung was at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee to brief it about the council’s plans for this year, but Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Pao-ching (鄭寶清) brought up the effort to salvage the National Airborne Service Corp helicopter.
The helicopter disappeared on Feb. 5 after taking off from Lanyu Airport on Orchid Island with six people aboard: three crew, an emergency medical technician, the patient and a family member of the patient. Their bodies have not been found.
Hwung said the council has detected wreckage in the sea and the Ministry of the Interior, which overseas the corp, has hired a contractor to salvage it.
The salvage operation could take two to three months, he said.
The wreckage was located 1,000m below sea level and special equipment is needed for such a recovery operation.
“It would be difficult to twist and maneuver the cables to retrieve the wreckage under such great pressure,” Hwung said, adding that Japan and Singapore have the technology needed to salvage wreckages on the high seas.
It is not clear whether Taiwanese operators could manage such an operation, Hwung said.
DPP Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said that the government should acquire the capacity to conduct high seas salvage operations.
As Taiwan is surrounded by sea, aircraft are more likely to crash on the water than land, he said.
Cheng also suggested the government move Lanyu Airport from the northwestern half of the island to the east.
Aircraft departing the airport often need to deal with wind shear, he said.
The airport is also not equipped with auxiliary facilities to enhance nighttime visibility, Cheng said.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration needs to address such safety risks, Cheng said.
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