Taiwan air force investigates accidental ejection of fighter-jet cockpit canopy

TAIPEI, Taiwan -The R.O.C. Air Force yesterday said it is conducting investigations after a fighter jet pilot accidentally ejected a cockpit canopy during a training session at a southern air base earlier this month.

The Air Force Headquarters Command stated in a press release that the incident took place during a locally developed Indigenous Defence Fighter (IDF) jet training session around 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 2 at the 443rd Tactical Fighter Wing located on the southern Tainan Air Base.

According to the command, the pilot, a lieutenant colonel surnamed Chen, was originally meant to unplug a safety latch in the IDF cockpit before taking off for the training session but accidentally activated the canopy jettison system of the IDF.

The cockpit ejected and was damaged after being triggered by Chen but luckily no one was injured during the incident, the Air Force said.

The Air Force later formed an ad hoc investigative committee to probe into the cause of the incident. The incident did not affect the air base's combat readiness, it noted.

The Air Force said initial examinations showed that it may need to pay around NT$3 million (S$130,164) to order a new cockpit canopy from the IDF manufacturer, the Taichung-based Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC).

It could take one month before the IDF jet in question will be combat ready again, it added.

A sources close to the matter told the Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday that Chen apparently had not followed related safety regulations despite being a well-experienced pilot, who has logged more than 2,000 flying hours.

The is reportedly the first time such an accident involving the jettisoning of a cockpit canopy has happened among Taiwan's IDF fighter jets.