It’s been a bad week for the US military rotorcraft community, with a combined six crew members having died in separate crashes at home and in Europe.
My Washington DC-based colleague Stephen Trimble yesterday pointed to the cruel coincidence in the loss of an air force HH-60G Pave Hawk in Norfolk, the UK, and a navy MH-53E off Norfolk, Virginia within barely a 24h period. Four personnel died in the first accident (the Rex Features image below shows the debris field with an accompanying aircraft from Lakenheath), while two have been confirmed killed, two rescued and one missing in the latter.
Following the massive level of media interest in the police helicopter crash in Glasgow, Scotland at the end of 2013 (10 people died when an EC135 crashed onto a crowded bar) and Flightglobal’s UK home base, covering the Pave Hawk loss was a must. We’re not speculating on what might have happened, but the USAF on 9 January confirmed that the crew had not reported any problem before the crash happened during a low-level training mission being flown in darkness.
Unfortunately, with a small and busy reporting team, we don’t have the capacity to report on the majority of military accidents that sadly happen each year.
Helicopter mishaps are by no means rare, and other losses recorded within the last two months in our Ascend Online Fleets database have included a Royal Malaysian Air Force S-61, an Indonesian army Mi-17 and several of the latter type also flown by the Syrian air force. There have also been at least four other crashes involving Sikorsky’s S-70-series design: a US Army UH-60 in Afghanistan; a US Navy MH-60S; a Colombian army UH-60L; and a Turkish army S-70A.
If that sounds like a lot of “Black Hawks” down, then it’s worth remembering that there are a lot of them out there. In our recently-published World Air Forces directory for 2014, the numbers show that more than 3,300 examples are in use, representing 18% of all aircraft we class as combat helicopters around the globe. Please fill in the short form to download your free copy, if you haven’t already done so: it’s our best chance each year to cover all the fleet changes that might get missed otherwise.