The Republic of Korea Air Force (South Korea) has completed its investigation into the crash of an aircraft belonging to its aerobatic team, the Black Eagles, concluding that pilot error was to blame for the incident. The aircraft was participating in an aerial display at the Singapore Airshow in February 2018.

Following the accident, which occurred on February 6, 2018, the South Korean Air Force deployed a 10-member inspection team to Singapore, led by Air Force vice chief of staff Gen. Lee Sung-Yong.

After a month-long investigation, The Republic of Korea Air Force announced on March 28, 2018, that the accident at the Singapore Changi Airport (SIN), was caused by a pilot error during preparation for take-off, The Korea Herald reports.

The T-50 Golden Eagle jet crashed while taking off for an aerial display at the opening day of the airshow. The aircraft skidded off the runway into a grass verge, flipping over and catching fire. The incident left the pilot with minor injuries and led the Air Force to cancel scheduled performances.

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A South Korean aircraft skidded runway and crashed into a grass verge catching fire during takeoff at Changi Airport, Singapore on February 6, 2018. The aircraft was part of a flight display at the Singapore Airshow.
 

According to the South Korean Air Force, its investigation found no defects in the T-50 jet. "There was no aircraft flaw at the time of the accident," was stated in a briefing, the South Korean Yonhap News Agency writes.

The Air Force maintains that the accident occurred when the pilot failed to follow-through the necessary emergency procedures as the jet veered off the runway: “We concluded that the accident was attributed to the pilot’s failure to observe the procedure for an abnormal situation.”

Investigators determined that the pilot had disengaged the nose wheel steering – a system that allows the aircraft to be directed when taxiing for a take-off – prematurely, when the aircraft’s nose cone and front wheels were not perfectly aligned, the Air Force said, according to The Korea Herald.

Such procedure leads to the jet leaning towards the right side of the runway while accelerating for take-off. The investigation showed that the pilot of the T-50 jet chose to continue the take-off run and correct his mistake in repeated attempts, instead of aborting the take-off, which would have been the proper procedure, South Korean Military Aviation News explains.

“The pilot was supposed to abort the mission in accordance with the established procedure. But the pilot was so eager to fix the problem that he tried repeatedly to bring the aircraft under control,” the Air Force stated.

The Air Force says it will now instruct its pilots in regards to this accident and “reestablish relevant procedures”. It also said they will work with the manufacturer of the aircraft – Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) – to prevent similar accidents, The Korea Herald reports.

The T-50 Golden Eagle is a family of South Korean advanced supersonic trainer jets and light combat fighter. It is developed by KAI, South Korea’s only aircraft manufacturer, along with the U.S. firm Lockheed Martin. The Golden Eagle twin-seat trainer jet has been procured in limited numbers with The Republic of Korea Air Force, the Military Factory explains.

The South Korean Air Force benefits from its partnership with the U.S. The T-50 / A-50 Golden Eagle jets are jointly produced by KIA and Lockheed Martin. The resulting design is a highly modified derivative of Lockheed’s F-16 Fighting Falcon, of which KAI license-builds as the KF-16.

It is to be noted that the Republic of Korea Air Force also maintains a viable aero-industry all on its own. The T-50 is one of South Korea’s main defense export items.

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On January 8, South Korea's Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) began supplying the Air Force of Thailand with advanced T-50TH trainer aircraft, armstrade.org reports