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Army completes investigation report into the Apache crash

TAIPEI--The Army has completed its report on the April crash of an AH-64E Apache attack helicopter in northern Taiwan, the contents of which will be made public pending approval by the Ministry of National Defense, military officials said Sunday.

The report will be sent to the ministry for further review, an Army official told CNA when asked about the progress of the investigation. But the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was tight-lipped about the findings of the investigation into the crash.

Defense ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he did not speak about the progress of the investigation, but he did say that experts from the Cabinet-level Aviation Safety Council, the Civil Aeronautics Administration and National Taiwan University will review the report before it is released.

The defense ministry and Army assembled a task force that includes U.S. technicians to help determine whether it was human error or mechanical failure that caused the April 25 crash in Taoyuan County.

The crashed Apache, one of 18 that have been delivered to Taiwan by the U.S. since last November, was conducting flight training when it crashed into the top of a three-story residential building in Longtan Township, damaging four homes but causing no serious injuries. The two pilots on board were unhurt except for minor scratches.

Shortly after the crash, flight instructor Maj. Chen Lung-chien said sudden changes in humidity and temperature had fogged up the aircraft's windshield, forcing him to try to climb above the cloud ceiling as the helicopter's night-vision functions were rendered useless.

With no point of reference amid the clouds, Chen said, he tried as best he could to keep the helicopter level, but the lack of visibility and low altitude left the vehicle crashing into the top of the building.

The helicopter was part of a NT$59.31 billion (US$2.01 billion) order for 30 of the newest Apache models that are currently only in use by the U.S. and Taiwan.

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