A Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) AH-64E Apache Guardian in action (Image © US Army)

Taiwanese AH-64Es suffering from “bad spell”

LATEST UPDATE 26 APRIL 2014 (CRASH CIRCUMSTANCES/PROBLEM) | The most modern Boeing AH-64 attack helicopter recently introduced into the Republic of China Army Aviation (RoCAA; Taiwan) seems to suffer from a “bad spell”. One of the machines – reportedly piloted by an experienced crew – crashed today, Friday 25 April 2014, into a residential building in Taoyuan. It is not the first time the E-model makes the headlines negatively. The events in Taiwan mark – as far as we know – the first loss of an AH-64E.

The RoCAA Apache Guardian with serial 808 of the 601st Air Cavalry Brigade that crashed into a house at 10:05 on 25 April was – according to Taiwanese sources – piloted by Major Chen Long Qian, with Lt. Col. Liu Ming Hui acting as co-pilot. Both have more than 1,000 flying hours, but we could not confirm on which type of aircraft. Luckily for them the crash from what apparently was a slow moving or hovering position happened from a low altitude, with both men being able to walk away from the site after impact.

The crashed helicopter was one of the first six Apache Guardians that arrived in November 2013, followed by another batch of six in January out of a total order of 30 AH-64Es. Almost immediately upon arrival the helicopters were grounded because of a US Army AH-64E showing a serious malfunction in the main transmission at Joint Base Lewis McChord near Seattle in Washington, USA. But none of the RoC Apaches showed a problem. However, the Taiwanese Ministry of Defence waited until the Americans cleared the type for flight again in February this year.

The Echo Model is the newest and most advanced version of the legendary American made attack helicopter. The type was officially declared operational worldwide in November 2013. Taipei pays more than 2 billion US dollars for the 30 machines. By July this year all Taiwanese AH-64Es are scheduled to have been delivered.

Problem (UPDATE 26 APRIL 2014)
Today’s crash will be investigated, but according to the first statements by the crew – as reported by the Taiwanese military to the media – theyt lost all visibility due to fog and or condensation of the canopy, with the pilot being disoriented and failing to use on board electronical aid systems to fly without visibility, either due to the disorientation or a technical malfunction. The clouds were as low as 200 feet at the time of the accident, with the crew attempting to lift up to 350 feet. According to the RoC Army AH-64E nr. 808 had more than 86 hours of flight, with repairs on the main transmission completed on 19 March 2014. One of the engines reportedly had been installed recently with only 8 hours on this powerplant.

A photo of the Apache crashed on top of the residential building was released by Reuters.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

See below for a video of the crash from a car mounted camera, with the helicopter visible on the top right corner before debris flies around.