An army AH-64E Apache helicopter crashed into a residential area in Taoyuan County at about 10am yesterday during a routine training flight, slightly injuring the copilot. No one on the ground was hurt in the incident.
The copilot suffered slight facial injuries and was taken to hospital along with the pilot for examination. Initial reports said both men had been injured.
The helicopter had to make a forced landing on top of a three-story building because of an emergency situation, the army said, adding that the aircraft was mostly intact despite the rough landing.
Television reports showed uniformed men inspecting the wreckage on top of the building, which was partly damaged by the impact along with two adjoining buildings.
The accident occurred during a flight supervised by Major Chen Lung-chien (陳龍謙), an instructor who received Apache flight training in the US, the army said.
Lieutenant Colonel Liu Ming-hui (劉銘輝), the 35-year-old copilot, was in control of the aircraft at the time of the crash, the Army Aviation Special Forces Command said.
The army said it has formed a joint investigation team with technical representatives from the US to look into possible causes of the accident.
The chopper “was in clouds and mist and my cockpit window fogged, I could not see the location of the aircraft. It all happened very fast. I suddenly saw a row of barriers,” Chen told a press conference.
He and Liu tried to retain control of the helicopter to reduce the chance of injuries, Chen said, before returning to a hospital for a follow-up examination.
Chen has 1,247 hours of flying time, including 350 hours in an AH-64E, while Liu has 1,034 hours total flying time and is learning how to fly the Apache, military sources said.
The army has apologized to the building owners and said it will pay compensation for the damages.
Army deputy commander Lieutenant General Wang Hsing-wei (王興尉) said all Apache helicopters were grounded for inspection after the accident.
This is the second time that the helicopters have been grounded since the military began to take delivery of the aircraft in November last year. The transmission boxes of the first 12 helicopters to be delivered were removed and sent back to the US due to a mechanical problem reported in December last year.
The military has received 18 of the helicopters so far. They are part of an order of 30 bought for about US$2.5 billion under a deal announced in 2008 by then-US president George W. Bush.