Last December, a Black Hawk helicopter flown by members of the Minnesota National Guard crashed and killed three Guard members. Now, the Guard has released a summary of results from a military investigative board.
According to that summary, it was a combination of mechanical failure and human error that apparently caused the crash.
The crash occurred on Dec. 5. The helicopter took off from an Army Aviation Support Facility in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and then went missing for nearly two hours. Later, the crashed helicopter was discovered in a field about 16 miles southwest of St. Cloud.
The crew had been conducting a maximum power check on the helicopter’s number one engine. The engine failed during the power check. The number two engine was at that time on an idle setting, which meant both engines were out.
The reason the number one engine may have failed is that a hydromechanical unit was installed incorrectly. A subsequent inspection of the unit’s installation failed to follow proper procedures.
The summary also cited two instances of human error. For one, the maintenance test pilot did not respond to a critical situation during the flight, which was a routine test flight. Moreover, the pilot at the controls did not execute what is called an autorotative descent and landing.
The summary does not list who was responsible for which errors. The families of the three dead Guard members have been briefed and have requested no media contact.
“It is critical for us to determine what caused this tragic loss of life — not so that we can place blame, but so that we can do everything possible to ensure nothing like this ever happens again,” said the interim adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard in a news release.
The report recommended additional training for maintenance test pilots, as well as more training for all Guard pilots about how to respond to emergency conditions.
Every aviation incident deserves investigation
Ordinarily, this type of incident would be investigated by the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, but the results of such investigations are not made public. This summary review was from a separate military investigation board appointed by the adjutant general.
If your loved one has been killed in an aviation accident, you need answers. If you can’t get the answers you need, discuss your situation with an experienced aviation attorney.