Company’s choppers grounded after fatal crash kills three

Taipei--Following a helicopter crash in Hualien County on Saturday that resulted in the deaths of three, including an acclaimed filmmaker, two other helicopters of the same model at the helicopter company involved have been grounded pending an investigation, officials said.

The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said on Sunday that it has ordered Emerald Pacific Airlines (????), a Taichung-based helicopter service provider, to ground its two remaining Bell-206 choppers.

The incident took the lives of all three men on board, including the pilot Chang Chih-kuang (???), award-winning filmmaker Chi Po-lin (???) and Chi's assistant Chen Kuan-chi (???).

CAA said the choppers have been grounded to avoid any potential risk, until the cause of the accident is determined and mechanical failure ruled out.

The grounded helicopters will not be permitted to fly again until they pass a safety inspection, the agency said.

The Aviation Safety Council (ASC) under the Executive Yuan is investigating the cause of the fatal crash. However, the probe faces several difficulties because the helicopter was not equipped with two vital "black boxes," a flight data recorder (FDR) and a cockpit voice recorder (CVR).

Such devices are not compulsory for aircraft under 5,700 kilograms, according to the Civil Aviation Act. Bell Helicopter's website indicates that an advanced Bell-206L4 helicopter weighs a little over 2,000 kg.

ASC Executive Director Thomas Wang (???) has said that without FDR and CVR, it will be difficult to determine a definitive reason for the crash.

Nevertheless, it is not impossible, he added, noting that ASC investigators are collecting evidence at the scene and along the flight path. They will try to determine the cause by examining the wreckage and radar loci, Wang said.

ASC investigator Lee Pao-kang (???) said on Sunday that no factors will be ruled out, including weather.

However, investigators have already been able to conclude that the chopper did not run into gondola cables or power lines and there was no fire before the crash, Lee said, citing preliminary findings.

In memory of Chi, 52, director of the 2013 documentary "Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above (????)," lights at the top of Taipei 101 building will display four Chinese characters, which when translated read as "Taiwan from Above," from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday.

At the same time, the LED screens on the 59th and 60th floors of the skyscraper will also flash the words "Green On" in English as a tribute to Chi who made an invaluable contribution to Taiwan by raising public awareness of the importance of environmental protection with his documentary, according Taipei 101.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel