China Airlines' student pilot dies in plane crash in Florida: Reports

China Airlines' student pilot dies in plane crash in Florida: Reports
PHOTO: The Straits Times

A China Airlines trainee pilot Chen Sheng-yen, 26, who had been in a critical condition since a crash on July 22, was reported to have died over the weekend, according to US media.

Chen and flight instructor Anthony Arzave, 32, had been onboard a single-engine Cirrus SR-20 during a routine training flight. The plane crashed in a swampy area near Lake Wales Municipal Airport's runway in Florida, according to local US media.

Both were airlifted and hospitalised locally after the crash, yet Chen succumbed to his fatal injuries over the weekend. Arzave was reported to be in a stable condition and still in the hospital.

Arzave, a certified flight instructor, and Chen had reported experiencing difficulties at the Lake Wales Municipal Airport, said Aerosim Flight Academy Inc., the company that runs the flight school Aerosim Flight Academy, based in Sanford near Orlando and where Chen had been studying.

Multiple 911 calls were released yesterday, including a call made by a person who identified as the pilot of the crashed plane sounding panicked.

An emergency parachute, standard equipment for Cirrus aircrafts, was found to have been activated, according to the US News Channel 8 last Wednesday. However, police are still unsure whether it was deployed by the pilots or on impact in the crash.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation by police and the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board.

Chen started his yearlong pilot training programme late last year at Aerosim Flight Academy and was undergoing hands-on training.

His training was expected to finish by the end of this year and he would have undergone another yearlong training period upon returning to Taiwan, said China Airlines in a statement. Currently, there are 50 China Airlines trainees studying at the Aerosim Academy.

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