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Taiwan court finds owner of unlicensed helicopter not guilty

Owner says he only fired up the engine for 5 minutes once a year

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The owner of an unlicensed Robinson R-22 helicopter was found not guilty. 

The owner of an unlicensed Robinson R-22 helicopter was found not guilty.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A court found former Yageo Corporation Chairman Wood Chen (陳木元) not guilty of flying an unlicensed helicopter because he only fired up the engine for five minutes, reports said Saturday (Jan. 1).

In October 2020, police in the Taitung County township of Chenggong informed prosecutors that a Robinson R-22 helicopter had been spotted taking off and landing illegally on the east coast, CNA reported.

Investigators linked Chen to the case and conducted a search of his property, impounding a two-seat R-22 Beta II. They concluded the businessman had started the engine for five minutes and flown the helicopter once every year from 2015 to 2020.

While prosecutors said an illegal flight lasted from the moment rotor blades started spinning to the time they stopped, Chen’s attorneys argued that he had only turned over the engine for five minutes each year and had never flown in the helicopter, though he acknowledged two licenses were past their expiry date.

Taitung District Court agreed with the reasoning and found Chen not guilty. Prosecutors said they would go over the verdict in full before deciding whether to appeal the sentence.