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GSDF to resume most chopper flights in wake of deadly crash in Saga

Kyodo

The Ground Self-Defense Force said on Friday it will partially resume helicopter flights at its camp in Saga Prefecture, nearly two weeks after the deadly chopper accident there earlier this month.

Flights are to resume for all choppers at Camp Metabaru next Thursday except for the AH-64D Apache, the attack helicopter involved in the house crash in Saga.

It also said the helicopters will not fly over the accident-hit area.

Lt. Gen. Goro Yuasa, commander of the GSDF’s Western Army, conveyed the plan to Saga Deputy Gov. Yoshihiko Soejima the same day. Soejima called on the GSDF to get to the bottom of the Feb. 5 accident, provide information and thoroughly check the aircraft.

The Western Army said in a press release that it has been working since Feb. 5 to ensure its helicopters at Camp Metabaru are safe through checkups and education programs.

The GSDF said the same day that it has finished retrieving nearly all of the parts from the Apache, which crashed into a house in the city of Kanzaki. The pilot and co-pilot died in the accident, while a girl was slightly injured while fleeing the home.

The crash site was about 8 km away from the point where flight controllers lost communication with the crew. The GSDF has been searching the area for chopper parts scattered by the crash.