Pilot damaged fighter: Air Force

AIR THREAT: The military confirmed that a pilot from Fleet 427 brought personal belongings on a flight to Penghu, causing damage that could have been deadly

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Tue, Sep 29, 2009 - Page 2

The Air Force Command Headquarters said yesterday that a newspaper report about a pilot who accidentally damaged equipment onboard an IDF jetfighter was true and that all crewmembers involved in the incident had been punished.

“The pilot, the chief technician and the assistant concerned were given an administrative demerit over the incident. They were also required to pay for repairing the aircraft,” a press release by the headquarters said.

The press release came in response to a report in yesterday’s Chinese-language Apple Daily that described an incident it said occurred on June 20.

The report was based on a tip from a soldier from the Air Force’s Fleet 427, which is based at the Cingcyuangang (清泉崗) Air Force Base in Taichung.

The soldier told the newspaper that an IDF pilot took some personal belongings onboard the jet fighter as he flew his plane from the base to Penghu as part of a regular training course. The equipment ripped off the plane’s detonating cords, which are used to blow off the jet’s hatch if a pilot needs to eject.

When the detonating cords are damaged, the hatch may not be blown clear if the pilot attempts to eject and that could result in the death of the pilot.

After the incident, the Air Force punished the ground technicians responsible for the plane, but not the pilot, the report said. The decision irritated the soldier, who then went to the press.

“The incident did occur, but we punished all the crewmembers concerned, including the pilot, the chief technician and his assistant — not only the technician. Those involved also had to pay for the damage caused to the plane,” said Colonel Hsieh Mao-sung (謝茂淞), spokesman for Cingcyuangang Air Force Base.

Hsieh said that the plane was fixed on the same day the incident happened. The repair work cost approximately NT$20,000 and would be shared by the plane’s crew.