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Search continues for missing military aircraft, pilots (update)

Search continues for missing military aircraft, pilots (update)

Taipei, Sept. 24 (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 two days ago during a routine training flight. In a statement issued Thursday evening, the Ministry of National Defense said that the military has continued to look for the pilots and the aircraft, which was last seen on radar screens in the skies over central Taiwan early Tuesday afternoon. Since the incident, the military has sent more than 550 servicemen and deployed several helicopters as part of the search effort, but no signs of the twin-engine jet or its crew have been found, the ministry said. The ministry said that several aircraft were deployed Thursday to continue the search and rescue mission. The mission has been complicated by the mountainous terrain in Nantou County (???), where the plane may have gone down. Participating aircraft include S-70C rescue helicopters, EC225 helicopters, one CH-47 helicopter, an E-2K early warning aircraft and an RF-5 reconnaissance aircraft, the ministry said. Meanwhile, a team of military rescuers has reached the area where the aircraft was last seen on radar screens as part of the ground search effort, the military said. They will step up the search effort in the following day, it added. According to the military, the AT-3 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, which had been in service for about 27 years, 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 has clocked 1,489 flight hours, is a flight instructor at the academy, it said. It was not clear who was at the controls of the plane at the time of the incident, due to the limited data as of now, the Air Force 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. 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 : 2021-01-27 10:18 GMT+08:00