Mechanic’s error blamed in fatal Black Eagles crash

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Mechanic’s error blamed in fatal Black Eagles crash

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A file photo of the T-50B

A technical mistake by an Air Force mechanic caused the Black Eagles jet crash that killed a pilot earlier this month, military investigators said yesterday.

“On Nov. 12, three days before the crash, the mechanic conducted maintenance checks of the aircraft’s flight control system after halting a part of the system by inserting a thin wire,” said an official from the Air Force.

“After completing the check-up, the mechanic mistakenly left the wire in the part, causing the aircraft to crash as the pilot lost control.”

The announcement of the investigation result comes more than two weeks after a trainer jet belonging to the Air Force’s flight demonstration team, the Black Eagles, crashed into a mountain in Hoengseong, Gangwon, during a regular exercise on Nov. 15.

After taking off from Wonju, Capt. Kim Wan-hee pulled on the flight controls to maintain altitude but the jet kept falling, according to the Air Force.

The jet crashed 1 minute and 38 seconds after takeoff. Kim tried to eject from the falling trainer jet, which was 350 meters (1,148 feet) above ground, but the parachute malfunctioned.

The Air Force said that the mechanic, only identified by his rank of chief petty officer, admitted on Tuesday that “he didn’t pull out the wire after finishing the checks.”

It also added that it has conducted a test without pulling out a wire and there was a similar reaction to the jet.

It is routine practice for the Air Force mechanics to halt the part that controls the aircraft’s climbing and descending by inserting a 10 centimeter-long wire.

The mechanic, who forgot to remove the wire, has 12 years of experience but he was only on his second year looking after T-50 jets.

The Air Force plans to conduct a more thorough probe into the maintenance unit behind the faulty maintenance check and punish those responsible. Military officials said that the mechanic’s senior officer killed himself on Tuesday out of guilt over the mistake made by the junior officer.

A technical mistake by an Air Force mechanic caused the Black Eagles jet crash that killed a pilot earlier this month, military investigators said yesterday.

“On Nov. 12, three days before the crash, the mechanic conducted maintenance checks of the aircraft’s flight control system after halting a part of the system by inserting a thin wire,” said an official from the Air Force.

“After completing the check-up, the mechanic mistakenly left the wire in the part, causing the aircraft to crash as the pilot lost control.”

The announcement of the investigation result comes more than two weeks after a trainer jet belonging to the Air Force’s flight demonstration team, the Black Eagles, crashed into a mountain in Hoengseong, Gangwon, during a regular exercise on Nov. 15.

After taking off from Wonju, Capt. Kim Wan-hee pulled on the flight controls to maintain altitude but the jet kept falling, according to the Air Force.

The jet crashed 1 minute and 38 seconds after takeoff. Kim tried to eject from the falling trainer jet, which was 350 meters (1,148 feet) above ground, but the parachute malfunctioned.

The Air Force said that the mechanic, only identified by his rank of chief petty officer, admitted on Tuesday that “he didn’t pull out the wire after finishing the checks.”

It also added that it has conducted a test without pulling out a wire and there was a similar reaction to the jet.

It is routine practice for the Air Force mechanics to halt the part that controls the aircraft’s climbing and descending by inserting a 10 centimeter-long wire.

The mechanic, who forgot to remove the wire, has 12 years of experience but he was only on his second year looking after T-50 jets.

The Air Force plans to conduct a more thorough probe into the maintenance unit behind the faulty maintenance check and punish those responsible. Military officials said that the mechanic’s senior officer killed himself on Tuesday out of guilt over the mistake made by the junior officer.

By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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