Two Apache copter accidents in Germany under investigation
Stars and Stripes March 16, 2006
The U.S. Army is investigating two separate Apache helicopter accidents in Germany in late February that resulted in no serious injuries but caused damage to both aircraft, a 1st Armored Division spokesman said Wednesday.
One of the two helicopters crash-landed Feb. 27 in Hohenfels, sustaining enough damage that officials have essentially written it off.
“That aircraft is a loss,” said Maj. Michael Indovina, a 1st AD spokesman.
The other AH-64 Apache helicopter went down Feb. 23 at Grafenwöhr Army Airfield, causing damage to the tail section, Indovina said.
However, unlike with the other Apache, the damage was relatively minor, he added.
Army officials didn’t disclose the accidents until Tuesday, when U.S. Army Europe posted on its Web site a safety alert from Gen. David D. McKiernan, the USAREUR commander.
After mentioning two fatal accidents involving off-duty soldiers, McKiernan wrote: “In addition, two of our Apache helicopters were damaged in accidents. Fortunately, the pilots were not seriously injured, but the multimillion-dollar damage is a tremendous loss of warfighting assets.”
A regular Apache helicopter roughly costs $14 million.
The Grafenwöhr accident occurred as the two-person crew was preparing to land at the airfield after completing a mission, Indovina said.
He said the helicopter “hit harder than expected” as it was landing.
Four days later, a crew was testing an Apache as part of a maintenance check at Hohenfels, hovering approximately 10 to 15 feet above ground when the rotors sucked in some debris, possibly from the roof of a nearby hangar.
The debris “got ingested by the rotor system,” causing the helicopter to drop straight down, Indovina said.
The two crewmembers suffered minor injuries, mostly bumps and bruises, he added.
Both helicopters are assigned to the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, which has been training with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team in preparation for deployment to Iraq.