Motor Malfunction Triggered Fatal IAF Chopper Crash Over Mediterranean, Initial Probe Suggests
© Wikimedia Commons/Amit AgronovTeams Air Squadron 193 ( "Defenders of the West) are facing the challenge of landing on the ship. Squadron 193 (" Stars of the West "), which operates the helicopter H"atlf" (Panther), is a unique squadron in the Air Force is working with the Force Depending on the nature of their missions, the squadron's air crews learn to land on "Saar 5" type ships, on which a dedicated landing pad has been found. [English language translation from Hebrew]
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has grounded its fleet of AS565 Panther helicopters after two of three crew members operating one of the aircraft were killed in a crash just off the coast of Haifa on Monday. It is now thought that the chopper, termed an 'Ataleft' (bat) by the IAF, experienced a critical motor malfunction prior to the incident.
An AS565 chopper that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on Monday night may have experienced a major malfunction in its left motor that caused the military aircraft to lose power, according to an initial IAF investigation.
It is believed that lack of power was the reason the three-man crew did not report the impending crash landing, according to IAF Brig. Gen. Amir Lazar.
Investigators' findings are primarily based on officer testimony and helicopter fragments that were recovered from the site and transported to Tel Nof Air Base for examination.
The force has yet to reach a determination as to why Lt.-Col. Erez Sachyani and Major Chen Fogel were unable to eject from the aircraft, unlike Maj. Ron Berman, who was able to eject and is the sole survivor of the crash.
"I was able to get myself out of the sinking helicopter and then, after many attempts to get my friends Sachyani and Fogel out, I was rescued by a naval police patrol," Berman said in a video statement published by the Israeli military, per the Times of Israel.
The naval officer is presently recovering after being admitted to Haifa's Rambam Medical Center with a broken vertebra and mild hypothermia. Berman was visited in the hospital by heads of the IAF and Israeli Navy, including Maj. Gen. David Sa'ar Salame.
Salame spoke highly of Berman, asserting that the naval officer "did everything he could and everything possible to" rescue the pilots.
Sachyani and Fogel have since been buried.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated on Tuesday that the military chopper was conducting a training flight when it went down around 9 p.m., local time, on Monday, approximately one hour after it took off from the Ramat David Israeli Air Force Base in Haifa.
Although the AS565 chopper, which is primarily used for missions at sea, was lauded by IAF Brig. Gen. Amir Lazar as a "very reliable" and "durable" aircraft, the service has for now grounded its entire fleet of the 25-year-old airframe.
"The technical components will be carefully investigated," Lazar vowed on Tuesday.