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US to offer help in investigation of reason for helicopter crash: military

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- An ad hoc investigative committee consisting of local and American aviation experts has been established to determine what caused a U.S.-made Apache helicopter to crash in northern Taoyuan County Friday, military officials said yesterday.

Unnamed military officials yesterday told the Central News Agency that R.O.C. Army personnel have already located and removed the black box aboard the crashed AH-64E Apache attack helicopter with the assistance of American technicians in Taiwan on Friday.

An investigative committee, its members including representatives of the Boeing Company that produced the chopper, has been decoding the black box to determine whether it was human error, weather conditions or mechanical failure that caused the accident, officials said.

In aviation, a black box is the data-recording device in an aircraft that records conversation between the pilots as well as information logged by the flight data recorder.

The helicopter was conducting flight training on Friday morning when it crashed onto the top of a three-story building in Longtan Township, damaging several homes and slightly injuring the two pilots but causing no serious injuries.

Following the crash, the Army has ordered the grounding of all 18 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters that Taiwan purchased and received from the U.S. until further notice.

Both pilots on the aircraft, Chen Lung-chien (陳龍謙) and Liu Ming-hui (劉銘輝) are suffering minor injuries. The Army command is having the two pilots undergo counseling sessions to help them recover mentally in the wake of the incident, the command said.

Though the investigating team is still trying to determine the cause of the crash, military sources said it is unlikely that lack of experience could be blamed because the two pilots are both very experienced.

Chen has logged a total of 1,247 flight hours, 350 of which are in Apache helicopters, while Liu has a total of 1,034 flight hours but none in an Apache.

Pay for Civilian Damages

Meanwhile, the military said yesterday that it was scheduled to send a team of technicians and engineers late yesterday to examine the damage to civilian homes affected by the crash landing.

The military promised that it will handle the cost needed to repair the damages.

The 18 aircraft are part of an order of 30 choppers that Taiwan bought for NT$59.31 billion (US$2.01 billion) in a deal announced in 2008 by then-U.S. President George W. Bush. The total sum also includes outlays for logistics, training and construction of a barracks area, the military said.

Between November 2013 and March this year, Taiwan received 18 of the newest Apache models.

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