TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A private company on Friday (April 30) recovered the wreckage of an F-5E jet which crashed into the sea off Taitung County last October, with the death of the pilot as a result.
Less than two minutes after the plane took off from Zhihang Air Force Base in the southeastern county, it disappeared off radar screens over the sea. The pilot, Chu Kuan-meng (朱冠甍), 29, escaped by ejecting from the aircraft, but nevertheless was still pronounced dead after having been taken to hospital with head injuries.
The discovery of the wreckage was expected to help the military determine what exactly caused the crash, CNA reported. After the incident, an initial report mentioned mechanical failure as a probable cause, though the plane being hit by a bird was also a possibility.
The F-5E, developed jointly by Taiwan and the United States, has been in service for more than 45 years. The same type of plane was involved in a mid-air collision in March which killed two pilots.
A military spokesman described the fact that the plane recovered Friday was relatively intact as a positive development. The aircraft will first be towed to Kaohsiung for an investigation by prosecutors, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board (TTSB) and engine experts before returning to base in Taitung.