Mirage fighter jets cleared to fly after recent crash: Air Force

04/01/2022 08:53 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, April 1 (CNA) Taiwan's Mirage 2000 fighter jets returned to the sky Friday, following the completion of a comprehensive inspection and additional training for pilots in the wake of a March 14 crash.

While the Armed Forces had picked up signals from the "black box," or flight recorder of the jet that crashed off the coast of Taitung County, weather and sea conditions had meant the search team has yet to salvage the fighter, the military said Thursday.

Meanwhile, the remaining 54 Mirage 2000 jets have been allowed back to the sky after the inspection and additional training of the Air Force personnel was completed, according to the Air Force.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) paid a visit to the Hsinchu Air Base, where the jets are based, on Friday, following the decision to allow the aircraft back in the air

Tsai listened to a briefing on the crash and met 38-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Huang Chung-kai (黃重凱), who was flying the crashed jet during a training mission from Taitung Air Base.

The president expressed her wish that Huang could soon go through the required training in order to return to flying.

The Mirage 2000-5 jet fighter, serial number 2017, took off from Taitung Air Base in eastern Taiwan at 10:08 a.m. on March 14, and about an hour later, Huang reported to the base that the aircraft had developed a "mechanical malfunction."

He safely ejected at 11:26 a.m., about 10 nautical miles south of the Taitung Air Base, and was picked up at sea off the Taitung coast at 12:06 p.m. by a UH-60M helicopter, which took him back to the base.

He was then taken to the hospital and kept under observation for two days, after which he was discharged, as he was found to have no injuries.

Tsai said Huang's reactions in the crash reflected the solid training of the Air Force personnel and their ability to respond correctly when facing unexpected situations.

Since Taiwan took delivery of its first Mirage fighter jet in 1997, the Air Force has lost six French-made fighters in its fleet of 60, including the one piloted by Huang.

(By Matt Yu, Wen Kuei-hsiang and Kay Liu)

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