A Helicopter without flight recorder


Source: 163.com

On May 12, 2008, a 7.9 Mw earthquake shaked Wenchuan (汶川), China and killed at least 69227 people. 17824 people were reported missing. On May 31, a rescue helicopter carrying earthquake survivors and crew members crashed in fog and turbulence in Wenchuan county. No one survived. Eighteen bodies, including five crew members, were found.

Source: 163.com/Photographer: Zhao Ziheng of Xinhua News, taken on June 11, 2008

Source: 163.com/Photographer: Xia Weiping of Xinhua News, taken on June 11, 2008

The government started a mass man hunting of the wreckage after the accident. More than three thousand people, mainly military units, participated the action. But it was not until 10 days later when they found the wreckage and it was first found by a volunteer Xie Chunwei (谢春伟). The bad weather was for sure one of the reasons that it took so long. Another reason wais the complicate terrain in that area. Both reasons were true, but with the cutting edge technologies, it shouldn’t be that different to find the location. Can’t they track the signals from the flight recorder on board?

Xinhua news reported that the helicopter was a Mil-Mi-171 transport helicopter (米-17 运输直升飞机). IFeng says that Mi-171 helicopter was a product of a Russian company. During the 1990s, China imported this type of helicopter several times.

According to a recent web document, this helicopter was not equipped with a flight recorder. The original document has already been removed, but there are copies elsewhere. An English translation is “Xia Lin (夏林), Xinhua Deputy Chief Editor, Reveals Secret Details of Old News Stories“. This is hard to believe, but If this were true, then it could explain why it was so difficult to locate the crashed helicopter.


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