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Apache crashes on top of house
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-04-25 04:40 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A newly acquired Apache attack helicopter crashed on top of a house in Lungtan, Taoyuan County, Friday, leaving one crew member injured and giving rise to the suspicion that mechanical failure was responsible.

The Army-operated Apache AH-64E was on a routine training mission with pilot Major Chen Lung-chien at the commands and co-pilot Lieutenant Colonel Liu Ming-hui, both officers with more than 1,000 hours of flying experience on their record. The Army announced it was grounding all its Apache helicopters while an investigation into the causes for Friday’s crash was continuing.

Cable stations broadcast footage of the helicopter coming down over a street in Lungtan before crashing on top of a three-story building while parts flew around.

Liu, 35, was taken to hospital with scratches on his face, but Chen already appeared at a news conference during the afternoon to explain what had happened. The windshield was covered in fog and the night-vision equipment did not provide him any possibility of seeing what his position was, he said. At the last minute, he reportedly noticed a row of houses ahead and took action to reduce the damage to the lowest level possible, the officer told the news conference.

Chen described how the resident of the house where the helicopter crashed took out a ladder to help the crew down. The military said it would compensate the home owners.

Chen had more than 1,200 flying hours on his record, including 350 hours after the Apache. He underwent training in the US from March 2012 until September 2013. Liu flew a total of 1,034 hours but was new to the Apache, reports said.

President Ma Ying-jeou had sat in the helicopter shortly after its arrival in Taiwan last year, reports said.

Six of the helicopters are based at the Kueijen Air Force Base in Tainan. Taiwan bought 30 helicopters from the US at a total price of NT$59.3 billion (US$1.9 billion) or NT$790 million (US$26 million) a piece. After the first batch of 12 arrived in the country last November, technical problems with transmission boxes in the US led to a flight ban and to repairs. The helicopters were not officially inaugurated until last December.

Because Friday’s accident still happened during the one-year warranty period, the military would not have to pay for repairs, at least if the helicopter could still be fixed, the Ministry of National Defense said.

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