TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Ministry of National Defense (MND) said at noon on Friday (Jan. 3) that the black box of a UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter that crashed in the mountainous district of Wulai in New Taipei City was retrieved at 10:40 a.m. and is on its way to the Aviation Safety Council for analysis.
The MND had dispatched a team to the area early Friday morning to search for the helicopter's flight recorder in hopes of shedding light on the accident that killed eight Taiwanese military officers in the fatal crash on Thursday (Jan. 2).
A team of 49 military officers and personnel started the mission, passing through the Cherry Blossom Cemetery in Yilan County's Jiaoxi Township toward the mountainous site of the wreck while searching for the helicopter's electronic recording device, or "black box," to facilitate the investigation of the crash.
The accident marked the second fatal crash involving one the U.S.-made medium-lift utility helicopters in the island country in just two years.
On February 5, 2018, a UH-60M Black Hawk air ambulance helicopter with six people on board plummeted into the sea within three minutes after taking off from Lanyu Island. Two bodies were retrieved, but the other four people remained missing.
The MND announced Thursday evening that it has grounded 44 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for thorough safety checks.
An official of the helicopter's American manufacturer, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, which was purchased by Lockheed Martin in 2015, was quoted by CNA as saying that the company has provided assistance to investigating institutions but did not identify them by name.
Liberty Times reported that the Taiwanese government procured 60 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters in 2008 at a total cost of NT$84.74 billion (US$2.82 billion) and that their delivery began in 2015. A fleet of 30 Black Hawks entered service in October 2019 after 22 months of tests and personnel training.