Human Error Blamed for Deadly Taiwan Jets Crash
Human error was responsible for a crash of two military jets in Taiwan last year that led to the deaths of three pilots, according to a preliminary report released Feb. 7 by the defense ministry.
An RF-5E surveillance aircraft and a twin-seat F-5F trainer vanished from radar screens 13 minutes after taking off on a night training mission in September from an airbase near Hualien in eastern Taiwan.
The two jets crashed into the side of a mountain, and there had been concerns that mechanical failure in the Vietnam War-era planes caused the accident.
But the defense ministry ruled out that possibility in its investigation report, saying human error had caused the tragedy.
“According to the preliminary investigation report done by the defense ministry, the pilots misjudged the topography of the area,” defense ministry spokesman David Lo told reporters.
He said the air force has stepped up training for pilots so as to avoid the recurrence of similar accidents.
The crash sparked calls for the United States to sell the island new planes and stop its pilots from risking their lives in old aircraft.
Despite the concerns, Washington late last year decided to help the island upgrade existing aircraft instead of selling it new ones.
Taiwan has ruled itself since 1949, but China still considers the island part of its territory and insists it wants reunification, even if it means war.
The backbone of Taiwan’s air force consists of some 60 F-5s, 126 Indigenous Defence Fighters, 146 U.S.-made F-16 A/Bs and 56 French-made Mirage 2000-5s.
Source: By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, TAIPEI, 07 February 2012 - Gannett Government Media / DefenceNews (www.defensenews.com)
Photo: Taiwan Air Force F-5F Tiger II (Photo by flickr.com)