A Ground-Self Defense Force AH-64D attack helicopter crashed into a house in Kanzaki, Saga Prefecture, earlier this week, killing its two crew members, injuring a resident of the house, and setting it and an adjacent home on fire. The crash could have caused far more serious damage since the area has a concentration of houses, an elementary school and a kindergarten, and a national highway nearby. The accident has likely caused great anxiety among Saga residents since the GSDF plans to station 17 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and some 50 helicopters, including AH-64D models, at Saga Airport 15 km southwest of the crash site.

The government should make every effort to identify the cause of the accident and work out effective measures to prevent a recurrence, and then sufficiently explain its plan to local residents. It should bear in mind that the smooth operations of military bases will be difficult unless steps are taken to ensure the safety of local residents and gain their understanding.

The AH-64D attack helicopter left the GSDF Metabaru Camp at 4:36 p.m. Monday for a test flight following regular inspection and maintenance. No trouble was reported when an air controller contacted its crew two minutes later. But five minutes after that it crashed at a point 6 km from the camp. Witness accounts report that the chopper made strange sounds while in flight and then plummeted to the ground after its main rotor fell off.