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Search still on for missing military aircraft, pilots

Search still on for missing military aircraft, pilots

Taipei, Sept. 23 (CNA) The military has yet to locate an AT-3 Air Force Academy training aircraft and its two pilots after the plane lost contact with air traffic controllers on Tuesday during a routine training flight. In a statement, the Ministry of National Defense said it set up a search and rescue center shortly after the incident to look for the pilots and the aircraft that was last seen on radar screens in skies over central Taiwan early Tuesday afternoon. The military sent 178 servicemen and deployed several helicopters later Tuesday as part of the search effort that has so far proved unsuccessful, the ministry said. It mobilized 191 servicemen and 48 military vehicles and various aircraft on Wednesday to continue the search and rescue mission, it said. The mission has been complicated by the mountainous terrain in Nantou County, where the plane may have gone down. Participating aircraft includes S-70C rescue helicopters, one CH-47 helicopter, an E-2K early warning aircraft and a RF-5 reconnaissance aircraft, the ministry said. According to the military, the twin-engine jet took off from an air force base in the southern city of Kaohsiung at around 11:55 a.m. Tuesday 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 said. 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, it 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, on Tuesday. There were also no abnormalities in the aircraft's flight record over the past three months, he said. The cause of the plane's disappearance is pending further investigation, he added. 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 Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-02-28 11:57 GMT+08:00