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Dapeng Airlines plane with 3 aboard missing (update)

2012/08/30 20:32:57

Taipei, Aug. 30 (CNA) A Dapeng Airlines BN-2 plane with three men aboard remained missing up to Thursday evening, according to the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA).

The last contact was an emergency beacon sent out earlier in the day by the aircraft, which was on an aerial photography mission, the CAA said.

The plane took off from Taipei International Airport, known locally as Songshan Airport, at 7:25 a.m. for an aerial photography flight between the northeastern county of Yilan and Hualien in eastern Taiwan, the CAA said.

Those aboard were identified as pilot Hsuey Chen-hao, co-pilot Chang Ming-chin and aerial photographer Chien Yu-hsin.

A six-member search and rescue team has been mobilized to find the plane and those aboard, said Chang Ling-ti, director of the CAA's Flight Standard Section.

The CAA said that at 7:44 a.m., the pilot requested permission to switch from instrumental to visual flight.

Visual flight standards require the pilot to contact air traffic controllers every 15 minutes, but there was no response from the plane after 9:14 a.m., Chang said.

"We had no idea about the plane's situation at the time we lost it,” Chang said. “About an hour later, we were informed by the National Rescue Command Center that there had been an emergency signal from the aircraft."

He explained that a distress signal, which is usually transmitted on 406 megahertz, can be triggered manually, or automatically when an aircraft crashes or enters water.

The plane was most likely somewhere between Nantou County in central Taiwan and Hualien, flying at an altitude of less than 8,000 feet, when it lost contact, Chang said.

Weather conditions in those areas were fine, with visibility of up to 10 kilometers, he said.

He said maintenance checks on the 20-year-old light utility aircraft were carried out last month and a new airworthiness certificate was issued.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)