Taipei, Feb. 15 (CNA) Human factor combined with weather conditions may have contributed to the crash of the Black Hawk helicopter that killed eight military officers in New Taipei City last month, the Air Force said Saturday.
The UH-60M helicopter, carrying military personnel to a base in Dong'ao, Yilan County for a pre-Lunar New Year inspection, went down in the mountains of Wulai District on Jan. 2, with 13 people on board.
Eight of them, including Taiwan's top military commander, Chief of the General Staff Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴), died in the crash.
Citing a report of its preliminary investigation, the Air Force said it has ruled out mechanical failure as the main cause of the crash, after Sikorsky Aircraft, the helicopter's manufacturer, last week provided a comprehensive analysis of the two data recorders retrieved from the wreckage.
It said that preliminary findings have so far shown that the cause of the crash was most likely related to human factor and weather.
According to the Air Force, the pilot tried to pull up for visibility as he flew into a huge layer of cloud that formed suddenly in the area.
A huge thud, what sounded like rotors clipping a tree, was heard a few seconds after 8:07 a.m., before the chopper's Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) stopped recording, it said.
At the time of the crash, the UH-60M was at 3,551 meters above sea level and 87 meters from the ground.
The Air Force said the aircraft had been trying to evade a sudden cloud layer that formed between Pinglin in New Taipei and Yilan.
Just 12 seconds before impact, the co-pilot was heard in the CVR calling twice for the pilot to watch out for altitude, the Air Force said.
The Black Hawk was flown by Lt. Col. Yeh Chien-yi (葉建儀) and co-pilot Capt. Liu Chen-fu (劉鎮富). Both were among the eight deceased.
Besides the pilots and Shen, the five others killed were political Warfare Bureau Deputy Director Maj. Gen. Yu Chin-wen (于親文), Maj. Gen. Hung Hung-chun (洪鴻鈞) of the Office of the Deputy Chief of the General Staff for Intelligence, Maj. Huang Sheng-hang (黃聖航) of the Office of the Chief of the General Staff, Chief Master Sergeant Han Cheng-hung (韓正宏), and Crew Chief Master Sergeant Hsu Hung-pin (許鴻彬).
On Saturday, the military said a final report on the crash investigation will come at a later date.