UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Control Yuan orders corrective measures over Black Hawk crash

ROC Central News Agency

07/28/2020 10:04 PM

Taipei, July 28 (CNA) The Control Yuan on Tuesday made public its demands that the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) under the transportation ministry take steps to correct major errors that contributed to a helicopter crash in January in which eight military officers were killed.

The government watchdog agency said it passed a motion on July 23 demanding the two government agencies take corrective measures to prevent the re-occurrence of mistakes that ultimately led to the fatal UH-60M helicopter Black Hawk crash that killed the nation's top military commander, Chief of the General Staff Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴), among other military officials.

According to the Control Yuan, the MND needs to improve its training of Black Hawk helicopter pilots as lack of training was one of the main reasons for the deadly incident on the morning of Jan. 2.

The chopper, part of the Air Force Rescue Group, carrying 13 military personnel to a base in Dong'ao, Yilan County for a pre-Lunar New Year inspection, went down in the mountains of New Taipei's Wulai District.

An initial investigative report on the incident released February by the Air Force said the crash was most likely caused by a combination of human factors and a sudden weather change in the mountains.

According to the Air Force, the pilot tried to pull up for better visibility when he flew into cloud cover that formed suddenly in the area before crashing into the mountain.

According to the Control Yuan's investigative report released Tuesday, the pilot of the chopper, Lt. Col. Yeh Chien-yi (葉建儀), who was killed during the incident, had not undergone the required training, which involves operating a UH-60M helicopter simulator, since the second half of 2018.

The lack of training is partly explained by the fact that the Air Force Rescue Group is not equipped with a UH-60M helicopter simulator and has to send its pilots to train on an Army simulator.

Yeh and other pilots in the Air Force Rescue Group trained on a S-70C helicopter simulator in lieu of their required UH-60M chopper simulation training sessions.

This means they lack operational familiarity with the Black Hawk, according to the Control Yuan report.

The report also criticized Hsueh Chih-liang (薛志良), an officer at Air Force Command Headquarters in charge of the Air Force Rescue Group's mission schedule, for negligence in failing to report the Jan. 2 mission to the rescue group earlier.

The chopper was scheduled to take off from Taipei's Songshan air base at 7:50 a.m. on Jan. 2 and fly to a base in Dong'ao, Yilan County for an inspection tour.

However, the Air Force Rescue Group did not learn about the mission until it was notified by the MND at 5 p.m. on Jan. 1, the report said.

The last-minute notice forced the Air Force Rescue Group to ask pilot Yeh Chien-yi, who was in central Chiayi County on Jan. 1, to fly back to Taipei overnight in preparation for the Jan. 2 early morning mission, the report said.

Inadequate preparation for the mission and insufficient rest could have also contributed to the deadly crash, it added.

Meanwhile, the Control Yuan also asked the CAA to add more mandatory checkpoints where pilots are required to report the latest conditions to air control along the flight route from New Taipei's Pinglin District to Yilan County to prevent similar incidents from occurring.

The chopper was flying that route before it crashed into the mountains in Wulai District.

The Control Yuan's latest corrective measures came after last week it announced the impeachment of two military personnel for negligence in weather reporting that was partly responsible for the crash, as part of its own probe into the incident.

The case involving the two Air Force officers will now be handed over to the Judicial Yuan's Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Commission for a decision on what punishment they should receive.

In response, the Air Force Command Headquarters said last week that it respects the Control Yuan's decision on the matter and has already adopted several measures to strengthen the use of weather forecasting information on military missions and enhance the training and response capability of Air Force tactical control personnel.

Taiwan purchased 60 Black Hawk helicopters from the U.S. in 2010 at a cost of NT$84.67 billion (US$2.82 billion), with 30 designated for the Army, 15 for the the National Airborne Service Corps under the Ministry of Interior and 15 for the Air Force Rescue Group.

(By Ku Chuan and Joseph Yeh)


Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list