StarLux Airlines chief deletes comments about Taiwan helicopter crash

Chang Kuo-wei said too many senior military officers flew together in helicopter, military insists it followed rules

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StarLux Airlines Chairman Chang Kuo-wei. 

StarLux Airlines Chairman Chang Kuo-wei.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — StarLux Airlines Chairman Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒) has deleted an online comment saying that whoever scheduled so many senior military officers to fly together in one helicopter “should be shot,” reports said on Saturday (Jan. 4).

Eight officers, including Chief of the General Staff Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴), died when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed on a flight from Taipei to Yilan County Thursday (Jan. 2) morning, while five others survived.

In an online post, Chang questioned the wisdom of putting so many generals together in one aircraft, questioning the military's sense of risk management. The airline chief wrote that an investigation should find out who was responsible for arranging the trip, and in the worst-case scenario, the culprit “should be shot."

The remark touched off a firestorm of comments, leading him to apologize and to delete his text. Chang explained that a helicopter, unlike an airplane, was not a stable means of air transport, so there should have been at least two helicopters on the trip, the Liberty Times reported.

He said his remarks had been motivated by anger over the loss of so many lives.

According to a CNA report, the military argued that all rules had been followed since the chief of general staff had only been accompanied by the deputy chief of a main department and advisers lower down the chain of command. The defense minister and the chief of the general staff would never travel in the same helicopter, and neither would the chief of the general staff and his deputy, military sources said.