Tail rotor failure may have caused S-70C chopper crash: Navy

06/23/2022 01:59 PM
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CNA photo June 23, 2022
CNA photo June 23, 2022

Taipei, June 23 (CNA) A preliminary inquiry has shown that a tail rotor failure may have caused a Taiwan Navy S-70C anti-submarine helicopter to crash in Kaohsiung during a training mission on Wednesday.

The S-70C helicopter "made a hard landing" on the tarmac of the Kaohsiung Zuoying naval base on Wednesday at around 4 p.m., causing all four crew members to be injured, including one in critical condition, according to the Navy at a Ministry of National Defense (MND) press briefing on Thursday.

Navy Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Chiang Cheng-kuo (蔣正國) said the incident was suspected to have been caused by mechanical failure of the tail rotor, citing the accounts of air traffic controllers and the helicopter's pilots.

However, the pilots did not report having encountered any mechanical problems before the incident, Chiang noted, stressing that the cause of the incident was yet to be determined until further investigation.

In the meantime, Chen Yuan-hao (陳元皓), a senior official at the MND's Medical Affairs Bureau, said the crew chief, surnamed Liu (劉), suffered the most severe injuries compared to the other three crew members and was still in critical condition in hospital.

According to Chen, Liu sustained second to third degree burns on 95 percent of his body and suffered subarachnoid hemorrhage -- a condition in which there is bleeding in the space between the brain and its surrounding membrane.

The other three crew members are in stable condition after being treated at the military hospital in Kaohsiung, Chen said, including the chief inspector officer surnamed Kuo (郭), who suffered second to third degree burns, on 20 percent of his body.

The pilot surnamed Chen (陳) and co-pilot surnamed Cheng (鄭) had relatively minor injuries, such as lacerations to the face and limbs, and rib fractures, Chen Yuan-hao said.

The Navy said the chopper was seriously damaged and that whether it was beyond repair would require further examination.

Wednesday's crash was the fourth military aircraft accident so far this year, following the crashes of an F-16 jet fighter, a Mirage 2000 jet fighter, and an AT-3 trainer, resulting in the total deaths of two pilots.

Taiwan's Naval Antisubmarine Aviation Group currently has 18 S-70Cs, including the one that crashed on Wednesday, which have been in service since 1991.

Over the past three decades, three other S-70C-related incidents in which the chopper suffered serious damage occurred in 1994, 2005, and 2008, respectively.

(By Matt Yu and Teng Pei-ju)

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