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September 23, 2017

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Two pilots, one photographer reported missing in aerial photo shoot

A Dapeng Airlines BN-2 aerial survey aircraft with three people onboard lost contact yesterday during a mission over Northeastern Taiwan, according to the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA, 民用航空局).

The aircraft took off from Taipei International Airport yesterday at 7:25 a.m., for an aerial photography flight between the Northeastern county of Yilan and Hualien in Eastern Taiwan, the National Rescue Command Center (NRCC, 國搜中心) stated.

Registered B-68801, the aircraft was scheduled to land in Taitung County at 10 a.m. but lost contact after sending out an emergency call from a mountainous area around the border between Hualien, Taitung and Nantou counties, the CAA said.

Those aboard were identified as pilot Hsuey Chen-hao (薛晨浩), co-pilot Chang Ming-chin (張明欽) and aerial photographer Chien Yu-hsin (錢煜新).

While wreckage of the aircraft had been discovered at mountainous areas around Tu Kun Bunun (土袞布農) tribes, it remained unclear as of press time whether the flight crew had survived the crash.

The CAA said that at around 12 p.m. a six-member search and rescue team was mobilized and successfully located the plane's wreckage. The rescue helicopter was forced to return, however, after poor weather conditions prevented it from landing.

The aerial survey picture indicates that the aircraft crashed at an altitude of around 1,600 meters.

Founded in 1992, Dapeng Airlines specializes in aerial surveys. From 1999 to 2004, the airline helped conduct aerial surveys for the Water Resources Agency (水利署), the Taiwan Railways Administration (台灣鐵路管理局) and Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信).

According to the CAA, both Hsuey and Chang were Air Force retirees with 10 years of experience at Dapeng.

Staff with the airline declined to comment on the incident, saying that a detailed account will be disclosed later after an investigation.

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