Helicopter black boxes analyzed and will be sent to military: TTSB

01/04/2020 02:02 PM
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defense (CNA file photo)
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defense (CNA file photo)

Taipei, Jan. 4 (CNA) Information recorded on two flight data recorders which were recovered from the UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter crash on Thursday, has been analyzed and the results will be sent to the Ministry of National Defense (MND) later Saturday, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board (TTSB) said.

Data from the recorders, known as black boxes, was comprehensive and will answer all questions related to the crash that killed eight of the 13 military personnel on board, including Taiwan's top military officer Chief of General Staff Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴), a TTSB official said.

The UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter was carrying military personnel to a base in Dong'ao, Yilan County for a pre-Lunar New Year inspection, when it went down in the mountains of Wulai, New Taipei City, at 8:07 a.m. Thursday.

Military investigators extracted the black boxes around 10:40 a.m. Friday from the wreckage of the crash located near the Tonghou River in Wulai District, on the border between New Taipei City and Yilan County.

The board said it has examined radar data, flight control information and several readings and charts from the black boxes, which will all be presented to the ministry.

According to the board, the data retrieved from the crash was comprehensive.

TTSB head Young Hong-tsu (楊宏智) said he believed the findings will answer all questions.

After receiving the analysis of the data, the MND will explain the results to the public, Young said.

Besides the military's top commander Shen, two major generals were killed, along with the pilot and co-pilot and other military staff.

The MND has formed a task force to look into potential causes of the crash. It has stated that the pilots had reported acceptable visibility conditions just one minute before the crash occurred.

An unnamed military source had told CNA on Friday that the helicopter involved in the accident was relatively new, sold to Taiwan by the United States in 2010, and in his view this made a mechanical failure unlikely.

The source had also downplayed the possibility of pilot error, noting that Lieutenant Colonel Yeh Chien-yi (葉建儀) had a total of 2,651 logged flight hours.

Instead, he suggested, visibility could have played a factor, given the danger of flying in mountainous terrain, where heavy fog -- especially in the fall and winter -- can form suddenly.

The Aviation Safety Council was reorganized and transformed into the TTSB last year to better handle major transportation accidents not only in the air, but on railways, waterways and highways in Taiwan.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)

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