UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pilot error main cause of military plane crashes: vice defense minister

ROC Central News Agency

03/29/2021 05:02 PM

Taipei, March 29 (CNA) Most of the military plane crashes in Taiwan in recent years have resulted from pilot error, Vice Defense Minister Chang Che-ping (張哲平) said Monday, adding that better training is required to prevent aircraft accidents.

At a legislative hearing, Chang agreed that the data presented by lawmakers pointed to pilot error rather than mechanical problems in 65 percent of all plane crashes in Taiwan.

"Mechanical malfunctions could occur, and the weather could change any minute above ground, but it's up to the pilot to fly the aircraft back to safety," he said.

Pilot error, therefore, was the main factor in the recent plane accidents, Chang said, in response to independent lawmaker Freddy Lim's (林昶佐) presentation of investigation findings that showed pilot error in 38 of the 52 crashes of F-5 fighter jets since they entered service in Taiwan's Air Force in 1975.

Chang said there are some issues pertaining to cultural traditions in Taiwan, which may have contributed to the high incidence of pilot error and death in military plane crashes in Taiwan.

For example, a lower ranking pilot might hesitate to point out a problem to his or her superior during a flight, due to the hierarchy system in the Air Force Academy, Chang said.

Furthermore, many Taiwanese military pilots might wait until the last minute to eject from the plane during an emergency, as they hold the traditional belief that they should go down with their aircraft, he said.

In an effort to address some of these issues, the military is in the process of holding seminars and training sessions at air bases nationwide, Chang said.

Meanwhile, he said, the search is still on for Captain Pan Ying-chun (潘穎諄), one of the pilots in a fatal mid-air collision of two F-5 fighter jets off Taiwan's southeastern coast on March 22.

Since the crash of the two Air Force jets that killed pilot Lo Shang-hua (羅尚樺), the 300-strong search and rescue team has found some personnel gear and aircraft debris, but has not yet located Pan, Chang said.

Pan is believed to have ejected from his aircraft, as did Lieutenant Lo, who was flying the other plane and was found at sea on the day of the crash but was pronounced dead after he was taken to hospital.

At Monday's legislative hearing, Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said data from the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board showed that human error was the main factor in 65 percent of all plane crashes in Taiwan.

The hearing was held to discuss the Air Force's efforts to improve aviation safety, after the safety of its F-5E fighters was called into question in the wake of the most recent crash.

The Air Force had grounded it fleet of 43 F-5s after the March 22 accident, pending safety inspections, but said Monday they will resume operation of its F-5F, a twin seat variant of F-5Es in the first week of April. They are usually deployed as second line fighters and trainer jets.

(By Chung Yu-chen and Joseph Yeh)


Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list