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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Air Force personnel disciplined over faulty fighter maintenance

ROC Central News Agency

2009/10/19 20:51:14

By Lee Shu-hua and Sofia Wu

Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) All air force personnel involved in improperly maintaining a Mirage 2000-5 jet fighter last month have been disciplined, the Air Force Command Headquarters said Monday in a statement.

The Apple Daily reported earlier Monday that a Mirage fighter at the Hsinchu air base in northern Taiwan suffered an engine breakdown during a high-speed trail run on a runway Sept. 21 because of faulty maintenance.

A follow-up examination found that a fuel check valve was mistakenly installed in the reverse direction in the fighter's fuel system, preventing fuel from flowing to the aircraft's engine and eventually leading to the plane's breakdown.

The Air Force statement neither confirmed nor denied the newspaper report, but it acknowledged that the fighter's engine breakdown during "a regular maintenance test run" was caused by the negligence of both mechanics and flight staff.

"Because of their negligence, the fuel delivery system could not operate normally and ensure a sufficient flow of fuel to the fighter's engine," the statement said.

The Air Force blamed the incident on the failure of mechanics to precisely follow standard operating procedures in installing parts and components, and it said all officers involved had been disciplined, with punishments ranging from a reprimand to two demerits.

The statement also said the Air Force has revised its standard operating procedures to beef up inspections, mutual checks and supervision to prevent the recurrence of similar errors.

Taiwan purchased 60 Mirage fighters from France in the 1990s that form the backbone of the country's air force arsenal along with U.S.-built F-16s and locally developed Ching-kuo Indigenous Defense Fighters.

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