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Search continues for AT-3 pilots after aircraft loses contact

Search continues for AT-3 pilots after aircraft loses contact

Taipei, Sept. 22 (CNA) The military was continuing a search for two missing pilots Tuesday after their AT-3 Air Force Academy training aircraft lost contact with air traffic controllers earlier that day during a routine training flight. The Huadong Defense Command said that a total of 60 servicemen would soon reach the area near the location where the aircraft was last seen on radar screens to search for them. In addition to the ground search effort, the Air Force also deployed an EC225 rescue helicopter and an S-70C rescue chopper to search for the missing pilots and the aircraft, but as of press time, the search had proved unsuccessful. Due to heavy cloud, the helicopters could not be flown at a low enough altitude to conduct search and rescue work, officials from the Air Force's Chiayi base said, adding that the helicopters had been recalled to the base. The Air Force was expected to dispatch another S-70C the following morning to continue with the search effort, the officials said. The pilots did not issue any abnormal calls and nothing seemed wrong with the plane before it lost contact, said Maj. Gen. Huang Chih-wei (???), deputy head of the academy, at a Tuesday news briefing. There were also no abnormalities in the aircraft's flight record over the past three months, he said. All training with AT-3 aircraft has been suspended following the incident, Huang said, adding that the cause of the plane's disappearance is pending further investigation. According to the military's initial information, the twin-engine jet took off from an air force base in the southern city of Kaohsiung at around 11:55 a.m. and lost contact with air traffic controllers 30 minutes later, the Air Force said. The plane disappeared off radar screens in the skies over Nantou County in central Taiwan, it added. Maj. Wang Ching-chun (???), 32, was in the front seat of the plane, and 1st. Lt. Huang Chun-jung (???), a 23-year-old with 116 flight hours, was in the back seat during the routine training flight, according to the Air Force. Wang, who had clocked 1,489 flight hours, is a flight instructor at the academy, Huang Chih-wei said. The last deadly accident involving an AT-3 occurred last October, when Col. Chuang Pei-yuan (???) was killed after his aircraft collided with another AT-3 trainer during a routine aerobatic training mission and crashed in a field in Kaohsiung's Zihguan District. (By Huang Kuo-fang, Lee Hsien-fong and Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-03-04 15:03 GMT+08:00