Environment, human factors to blame for Taiwan Black Hawk crash

Air Force (ROCAF) General Hsiung Hou-chi speaks at a press conference on Feb.15, 2020. (CNA)
Air Force (ROCAF) General Hsiung Hou-chi speaks at a press conference on Feb.15, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND, 國防部) said Saturday that a combination of environmental (weather and terrain) and human factors were to blame for the UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter crash that killed eight in January.

Speaking at a press conference on the crash that killed Air Force General and Chief of the General Staff Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴) and seven others, and injured five on Jan. 2, the Air Force Command said the preliminary findings are based on the “existing evidence.”

The investigation received assistance from Taiwan Transportation Safety Board (TTSB, 國家運輸安全委員會) and the United States in downloading data from the black box, which was then cross-examined with other factors, including weather and aircraft maintenance, according to General Hsiung Hou-chi (熊厚基).

Based on the TTSB and the U.S. findings, the black box was not damaged, and the main alert system was not triggered throughout the flight. The possibility of mechanical failure was low, the findings showed.

Sudden changes in the weather in the mountainous areas of New Taipei City, where the crash occurred, prevented the pilot from adjusting the altitude of the aircraft in time.

On Jan. 14, a state funeral was held for the eight people who died in the tragedy. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Vice President Chen Chien-Jen (陳建仁), former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), and William Brent Christensen, director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT, 美國在台協會) all attended the service.

Tsai said at the service that their deaths are “great losses to the nation,” and that the missions of the deceased military members “have finally come to an end.”