The Taiwan Transportation Safety Board should be more actively involved in the investigation of accidents related to military aircraft after a second Black Hawk helicopter crash in January, a lawmaker said yesterday at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee.
The Jan. 2 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash killed eight military personnel on board, including then-chief of the general staff General Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴).
In its investigation report released on Feb. 14, the Ministry of National Defense attributed the accident to the weather, terrain and human factors.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) questioned the validity of the report, as the investigation was conducted by the air force itself.
Modern technology has enabled pilots to set a safe operational altitude and flight route, as well as obtain instant weather information in flight, Lin said, adding that the weather radar would have informed the pilots where thick clouds had formed along the route.
“If flying through the clouds would cause a helicopter to crash, then the air force might as well only allow them to fly if it is sunny,” Lin said.
The board should do more than just decoding information from flight data and cockpit voice recorders, also known as “black boxes,” he said.
“People across the nation were pained to hear that high-ranking military officials died in the helicopter crash. How can anyone expect the truth behind the crash to surface if the air force was also responsible for conducting the investigation? It was the same reason that we did not let the Taiwan Railways Administration [TRA] investigate the Puyuma Express derailment in 2018,” he said.
Lin said he also disagreed with the ministry’s solution to the problem, which is to have experienced air force pilots and pilot trainers operate the helicopter if it is carrying top military officials.
The board was established in August last year to have an independent third-party investigate the causes of major transportation accidents in a fair, just and open manner, he said, adding that the board should speak up.
Some of the board’s members should be pilots as well, he said.
In response, board Chairman Young Hong-tsu (楊宏智) said that the air force had formed a committee to investigate the helicopter crash, but it did not ask board officials to attend the committee meetings.
The board, previously known as the Aviation Safety Council, signed a memorandum of understanding with the ministry 10 years ago, allowing the board to assist the ministry when there is an accident involving military aircraft.
Young said the data collected in the past two decades showed that 80 percent of aviation accidents were caused by human errors.
However, the board is only authorized to investigate accidents involving civil aircraft, he said.
Young also dismissed a report that the ministry is investigating if the board had leaked crucial information to the news media.
The source of the false report was an academic institution, which meant to sway public opinion through the messages it posted on Facebook, he said.
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