2 pilots killed after helicopter crashes during Taiwan war games

Taiwan OH-58D helicopter crashes, bursts into flames during Han Kuang exercises

Photo of smoke rising from crash. (Facebook, 新竹大小事 photo)

Photo of smoke rising from crash. (Facebook, 新竹大小事 photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — While participating in the ongoing Han Kuang military exercises (漢光演習) in eastern Taiwan on Thursday (July 16), a Bell OH-58D Kiowa helicopter crashed, killing both the pilot and co-pilot.

The Aviation and Special Forces Command helicopter took off at 3:25 p.m., and only three minutes into the flight, for unknown reasons, it crashed at Hsinchu Air Force Base. Both the pilot, Army Major Chien Jen-chuan (簡任專), and the co-pilot, Captain Kao Chia-lung (高嘉隆), suffered fatal injuries in the incident, announced the Ministry of National Defense.

The Hsinchu City Fire Bureau immediately dispatched firefighters to the scene, where they retrieved Chien and Kao and rushed them to nearby Hsin Chu Armed Force Hospital, where both succumbed to their injuries. Photos and video from the scene show the helicopter bursting into flames, and black smoke can be seen billowing high into the air.

The Army Command Headquarters said that it has set up a special task force that will include high-level officers to investigate the accident. The military has grounded all helicopters to implement special safety inspections and begin an investigation into the cause of the heavy landing.

This incident marks the third accident involving an OH-58D Kiowa operated by Taiwan's military over the past two years. The previous two incidents occurred in March of 2018 and May of this year, neither of which resulted in any fatalities.

Bell OH-58D Kiowa. (CNA photo)