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Crew error blamed for M’sian deadly chopper crash

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) A mid-air collision between two Malaysian military helicopters that killed all 10 people onboard was caused by crew error, the country’s navy said Thursday.

The helicopters were participating in a flypast rehearsal on April 23 over a naval base outside the capital Kuala Lumpur when one chopper was seen clipping the rear rotor of another.

Both helicopters — a Eurocopter AS555SN Fennec and an AgustaWestland AW139 — went into a tailspin and crashed, killing everyone onboard.

A probe by the navy found the Eurocopter model was not flying at its designated “altitude and direction”, causing it to enter into the flight path of the other helicopter.

Royal Malaysian Navy Commander Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Ayub showing the video of the incident during a press conference. PHOTO: BERNAMA

“The crew of AgustaWestland AW139 were focused on changing flight path and could not avoid the collision,” said a navy statement citing a final report by an investigation board.

Photos of the aircraft after the incident showed the Eurocopter model’s mangled wreckage on the naval base’s stadium track.

The AgustaWestland helicopter crashed at the base’s swimming pool area.

Investigators also found both aircraft to be airworthy and the crew medically fit to fly, while weather conditions that day were ideal, the statement said.

Helicopter crashes are not uncommon in the Southeast Asian nation.

In March, all four people onboard a Malaysian coast guard helicopter were rescued after it crashed in the Strait of Malacca during training.

Two people were killed in 2020 when a pair of helicopters from the same Malaysian pilot school collided during a training flight, according to authorities.

In 2016, a deputy minister was among those killed when a Eurocopter AS350 crashed in the Malaysian state of Sarawak.