Army orders aviation stand down in wake of latest deadly helicopter crash
Stars and Stripes April 28, 2023
The Army’s highest-ranking officer on Friday ordered a service-wide aviation stand down following a pair of helicopter crashes over the past month that took the lives of 12 soldiers.
The order by Army Chief of Staff James McConville grounds all Army aviators until they complete required training, the service said in a news release Friday.
Aviators participating in “critical missions,” however, will continue flying during the stand down, the Army said.
Active-duty units are required to complete the 24-hour stand down between Monday and Friday, according to the release.
Army National Guard and Reserve will have until May 31 to coincide with their training schedules, the Army said.
The stand down was ordered in the aftermath of a crash Thursday near the town of Healy, Alaska. Three soldiers were killed and another injured when two AH-64 Apache helicopters collided in midair and crashed while returning from a training mission.
The victims of the crash were Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christopher Robert Eramo, 39, of Oneonta, N.Y.; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kyle McKenna, 28, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Warrant Officer 1 Stewart Duane Wayment, 32, of North Logan, Utah. The crash’s cause is being investigated.
On March 29, two Army Black Hawk helicopters crashed during a training flight near Fort Campbell, Ky., that took the lives of nine soldiers.
The 101st Airborne Division aircraft collided in midair during a nighttime flight and went down in a field in Kentucky, Army investigators said in a preliminary report.
“The safety of our aviators is our top priority, and this stand down is an important step to make certain we are doing everything possible to prevent accidents and protect our personnel,” McConville said in the news release.
McConville is a senior Army aviator and is qualified to pilot numerous aircraft.
“During this stand down, we will focus on safety and training protocols to ensure our pilots and crews have the knowledge, training and awareness to safely complete their assigned mission,” he said.
The Army will review its risk approval and risk management processes as part of the stand down. It will also reevaluate the Army’s aviation maintenance training program, aircrew training standards and management and supervisory responsibilities, the Army said.
“Army aviation units will resume normal operations following the stand down, after any corrective actions are taken on issues identified in safety or training,” the release said.