Helicopter’s Black Box to Be Reviewed Friday

A joint committee of Cambodian and Chinese technical analysts will begin reviewing black box data today retrieved from the Chinese-built Z-9 helicopter that crashed early this week, killing four military personnel, officials said on Thursday.

The Z-9 helicopter, which the government purchased from China last year along with 12 like it for almost $200 million, crashed on Monday during a pilot training exercise. 

A deputy Air Force commander in charge of helicopter training and three other officers perished. Pilot cadet Cheng Soksambo, 27, survived the crash and is recovering in Calmette Hospital.

Air Force commander Soeng Samnang said a team of three Chinese analysts arrived in Phnom Penh on Thursday to assist with the analysis of the black box data.

Lieutenant General Yin Sokha, deputy air force commander, said the black box is currently being held at Phnom Penh’s Pochentong Air Base.

“We’ve kept the black box in the Pochentong Air Base and have not opened or touched it,” he said.

It remains unclear what caused the crash.

Witness video of the crash shows the helicopter possibly about to land before rising and then falling into a flooded quarry in Dangkao district’s Prey Sar commune.

Chhuoy Meng, a doctor at Calmette Hospital, said Mr. Soksambo’s “health is better and he could be leave from the hospital next two to three days.”

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