An investigation has begun into the cause of a crash into the Sea of Japan by a Russian Mil Mi-14 Haze that killed the Russian pilot during a emergency simulation excercise.
The military-operated Mi-14, an amphibious version of the Mi-8 Hip twin engined helicopter, was attempting a take-off from water during a joint emergency simulation excercise with the Japanese coast guard. The helicopter was carrying 13 people including two crew when it hit the water on take-off after reportedly suffering an engine failure. The inicident happened off the island of Sakhalin, north of Japan's Hokkaido island yesterday.
The Haze ploughed into a big swell as it attempted to power up with one engine inoperable, according to local reports. The helicopter had not gained any height after taking off when, it is thought, its engine failed. The helicopter fell back into the water. Its nose tipped forward into the swell. The tips of the rotors clipped the water and the helicopter toppled over, disintegrating on the surface.
Russian news agency Itar-Tass says only 12 passengers survived the incident. The rescued passengers were evacuated to the port of Korsakov.
The Russian transport prosecutor's office has launched criminal proceedings and is working on the assumption that the crash was caused by a technical fault in the Mi-14 or the Klimov TV3-117M 1,455kW (1,950shp) powerplants.
The internet discussion site Professional Pilots' Rumour Network is hosting a debate on the cause of the crash, contributed to by several former North Sea helicopter pilots.
The helicopter was part of Russo-Japanese exercises to simulate oil spill retention and search and rescue activities in the event of accidents on the oil and gas drilling platforms being constructed in the Aniva Gulf that divides the two countries.
The Haze has a different landing gear to the Hip, with the aft wheels retracting into the boat-like fuselage, with the front gear folding forward into the fuselage outside the hull.
Russian television was covering the excercise when it happened and has released the footage. Click here to view the coverage.
Source: Flight International