The US Army has ordered its rotary-wing aviation forces to undergo mandatory safety training, after the service experienced 11 non-combat crashes in the past six months.

An additional crash involved a Beechcraft C-12 fixed-wing aircraft. Combined, the 12 incidents have killed 10 people. The army has not yet revealed a cause in any of the crashes.

The most recent incident involved a New York Air Army National Guard Airbus Helicopters UH-72 Lakota helicopter, which crashed in Texas on 8 March while patrolling the US-Mexico border. Two soldiers and one border patrol agent were killed.

CH-47F Black Hawk

Source: US Army

The US Army has logged 10 aviation fatalities in the past six months, all due to non-combat-related incidents

The army is now giving all active duty aviation units 30 days to complete required safety instruction intended to address the recurring issues. Reserve and national guard forces have 60 days, according to a directive released on 10 April.

Although several investigations into the incidents are ongoing, senior aviation officers within the army hinted that issues around spatial awareness and power management were contributing factors

“We must reinforce… knowing where you are and where your aircraft is with respect to the ground,” Major General Walter Rugen said on 10 April.

Rugen is the top army aviation officer. He previously oversaw the service’s Future Vertical Lift fleet-modernisation effort.

Reinforcing Rugen’s comments about aviator proficiency, the recent army safety directive notes pilots will receive “academic instruction” covering power management and spatial disorientation. Maintenance personnel will also receive unspecified technical proficiency training. All aviation units will undergo additional instruction on proper risk-mitigation procedures.

Notably, army crews will continue to fly while the safety training occurs. US military services often order a so-called “safety stand down” following serious or fatal crashes. 

Less severe than groundings, stand downs typically involve short-term halts to flight operations until required safety or technical training is administered.

In the latest case, the army is not even going that far, with Rugen describing the measures as a “stand up”, rather than a stand down.

Story corrected 15 April to show the 8 March helicopter crash involved a UH-72  and not a UH-60