The Control Yuan has impeached five military personnel for negligence that resulted in an F-16 crash during a 2018 drill that killed the pilot.
The Control Yuan said that it passed a motion on Feb. 4 to impeach Shih Ching-nien (史青年), Lai Wen-sheng (賴文生), Lu I-shun (盧易舜), Chuang Chun-yuan (莊春源) and Ou Chien-fei (區劍飛) after an investigation into the crash that killed pilot Major Wu Yen-ting (吳彥霆) showed that the five officers were chiefly responsible.
Before the crash, Wu had twice asked the air force’s Air Operations Center whether he could ascend since he was having difficulty getting a clear visual due to heavy clouds, the report said.
However, the five officers made an incorrect decision due to lack of preparedness and/or sloppiness, which ultimately led to the F-16 being unable to climb above 610m before it crashed into Wufen Mountain in New Taipei City’s Rueifang District (瑞芳), it said.
Shih, Lai and Lu were responsible for charting the wrong flight route for Wu’s jet, which led to it flying into the mountain, the report said.
Chuang was tasked with coordinating with civilian air controllers during the drill, but he completely forgot about the mission and did not correct the flight route in time, it said.
Ou was responsible for training personnel at the Air Operations Center, but he did not properly supervise the mission and did not follow standard procedures that require the flight route to be double checked, which ultimately led to the tragedy, the report said.
The findings showed that the crash was “clearly the result of human error” on the part of the five officers, Control Yuan member Bau Tzong-ho (包宗和) said.
The findings have been forwarded to the Judicial Yuan’s Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Commission, which would decide on the punishments to be handed down, he said.
The Control Yuan is also investigating the responsibilities of civilian air traffic controllers and would ask the Civil Aeronautics Administration to levy any punishments after the investigation has been completed, Bau said.
Civilian air traffic controllers were partly responsible for the tragedy since the drill involved close coordination between civilian and air force air traffic controllers, Control Yuan member Chang Kuei-mei (仉桂美) said.
The air force said that it respected the Control Yuan’s ruling and has taken measures to beef up its air traffic control capability to prevent a similar tragedy.
The crash occurred on June 4, 2018, when Wu’s F-16 disappeared from radar screens at 1:43pm, nearly half an hour after it took off from Hualien to participate in the annual Han Kuang military exercises.
Wu, 31, is survived by a wife, who also serves in the air force, and a son.
The air force had previously attributed the cause of the tragedy to “a combination of factors, including poor weather conditions and human error,” based on the initial findings of its investigation.
However, the air force did not release the final results of its investigation, citing confidentiality requirements.
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