TAIPEI - All 18 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters that Taiwan purchased and received from the US last year were grounded due to yesterday's crash landing that injured two pilots and damaged several homes in Taoyuan, according to the Army Command Headquarters (ACH).
According to the ACH, an AH-64E Apache helicopter was forced to land on the rooftop of a house near the military camp in Longtan, Taoyuan during a training flight.
The ACH's Deputy Commander-in-Chief Lt. Gen. Wang Hsing-wei said that he wanted to apologise on behalf of the military over the incident and said the military will take full responsibility.
Wang said that until the cause of the crash landing can be determined, all the AH-64E Apache helicopters will be grounded.
The ACH has established an investigation team to look into the incident with help from US experts, Wang said.
As for the severe damage to the three houses, and the minor damage sustained by a fourth home, Wang said the military will compensate the homeowners and help them repair their properties.
Wang said that the pilot and the co-pilot did not suffer serious injuries from the crash landing, and the co-pilot, Liu Ming-hui, is still receiving medical treatment at the hospital for a cut to his face.
According to the military, the model E is the latest in the Apache attack helicopter series. The US and Taiwan are the only two countries that currently use the latest Apache helicopter model.
Based on local reports, President Ma Ying-jeou entered and posed in the same Apache helicopter last December during a ceremony to welcome the arrival of the high-tech military equipment.
Cockpit Window Fog-up Leads to Lost Reference Point
Chen Lung-chien, the pilot of the crash-landed Apache helicopter, claims that the windows of the cockpit fogged up, causing the flight team to lose their reference point.
According to Chen, he and his co-pilot were practicing a special landing and the windows in the cockpit started to fog up due to changes in temperature and humidity, which obstructed their view.
Chen said that they climbed to a safe altitude in order to have a clearer view through the infrared night vision system. However, Chen said, due to atmospheric conditions, the night vision system was of little use.
Due to the lack of reference points, Chen said, the pilots lost their bearings. When they saw a row of houses on the ground, Chen said, they opted for an emergency landing and attempted to minimise the impact.
According to the military, Chen was among the 12 pilots who were sent off to the United States to be trained to fly AH-64E Apache attack helicopters. Chen met his American girlfriend Hannah when he was training in Alabama, and she came over to Taiwan to learn Chinese after he was done with his training.