A tail rotor failure might have caused a Taiwanese Navy S-70C anti-submarine helicopter to crash in Kaohsiung during a training mission on Wednesday, a preliminary inquiry has shown.
The aircraft “made a hard landing” on the tarmac of the Kaohsiung Zuoying naval base on Wednesday at about 4pm, injuring all four crew members, with one in critical condition, navy Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Chiang Cheng-kuo (蔣正國) said at a news conference yesterday.
Accounts from air traffic controllers and the helicopter’s pilots pointed to a tail rotor failure, Chiang said, adding that no other mechanical problems were encountered before the incident.
An official cause of the crash has not been determined pending investigation, he said.
The crew chief, surnamed Liu (劉), suffered the most severe injuries and is in hospital in critical condition, Ministry of National Defense Medical Affairs Bureau official Chen Yuan-hao (陳元皓) said.
Liu sustained second and third-degree burns on 95 percent of his body, and has a subarachnoid hemorrhage — bleeding between the brain and its surrounding membrane, Chen said.
The other crew members are in stable condition after being treated at a military hospital in Kaohsiung, including a chief inspector surnamed Kuo (郭), who has second and third-degree burns on 20 percent of his body, Chen said.
The pilot, surnamed Chen (陳), and co-pilot, surnamed Cheng (鄭), have relatively minor injuries, such as rib fractures and lacerations to the face and limbs, he said.
The navy said the helicopter was severely damaged, and it would assess whether repair is possible.
The crash was the fourth military aircraft accident this year, following crashes of an F-16 fighter, a Mirage 2000 fighter and an AT-3 trainer, resulting in the deaths of two pilots.
Taiwan’s Naval Antisubmarine Aviation Group has 18 S-70Cs, which have been in service since 1991, including the one that crashed on Wednesday.
Three other S-70C-related incidents that resulted in severe damage to the aircraft occurred in 1994, 2005 and 2008.
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