The Aviation Safety Council yesterday said it would soon start decoding information recorded on the camera of the aircraft owned by ROC Aviation Corp that crashed last week, adding that the investigation into the accident would also include the cause of death of the three people aboard the aircraft.
Rescuers found the airline’s Britton-Norman BN-2 islander on Sunday following a three-day search. The damaged plane was found on a steep slope in a mountainous area between Hualien and Greater Kaohsiung.
The three people on board — pilot Hsueh Chen-hao (薛晨浩), co-pilot Chang Ming-ching (張明欽) and aerial photographer Chien Yu-hsin (錢煜新) — were found dead at the crash scene.
Prosecutor Tsai Pai-ta (蔡佰達) of the Hualien Prosecutors’ Office said a joint examination the office carried out with the coroner showed that the three died after severe loss of blood, adding that the crash impact was significant.
Tsai said Hsueh had suffered numerous fractures to bones in his face and had suffered a fatal brain injury.
Chang sustained fractures to his ribs and had several open wounds and contusions on the right side of his back.
Chien suffered a fatal wound to his right lung, which had been penetrated by a sharp object. The council’s managing director Thomas Wang (王興中) said its investigators had brought back some of the aircraft’s photographic equipment and memory cards.
“They [the equipment and the cards] are very damp from humidity and need to be dried out before any decoding can begin,” Wang said.
Wang said the council would send another group of investigators to the site on Saturday and bring back the engine, the dashboard and the rest of the photographic equipment the plane was carrying.
Wang said council officials would calculate the impact of the crash based on the recorded speed of the aircraft and angle at which it hit the ground in order to determine the cause of the deaths of the three. Want added that it an examination carried out by the prosecutors’ office would be used for reference.
The council said its report should be released within three months.
Many have raised questions about the nation’s ability to rescue victims and specifically, the failure to speedily and accurately identify the point of rescue, which has been cited as the main reason rescue efforts were delayed.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration said that the aircraft’s position — as indicated by its radar systems — was different from the coordinates that had been generated by the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) due to blind spots caused by the high mountains where the craft went down. It also added that the aircraft had continued to fly in an area that cannot be tracked by its radar and this explained why the aircraft was found at a different location from the one registered through its radar systems.
The administration also said that the ELT had transmitted signals using the 406MHz radio frequency and that these signals are first received by satellites and then decoded by its mission control center which indicates in which nation the aircraft is registered, its registration number and details on its owner.
The accuracy of the information may also be affected by the number of satellites in operation as well, the administration said, adding that the mission control center provides only 10 sets of coordinates that have clear signals.
Chang’s widow, Mao Ming-hua (毛明華), thanked the rescuers for helping to find her husband, but she also said tearfully that the rescue operation was very “disorganized” and “chaotic.”
She said she hoped her husband’s death would help the government reform the rescue system and integrate resources in relevant government agencies.