The unintended closure of two helicopters and a pilot’s overcorrection to avoid collision resulted in the crash of an HH-60G helicopter and the injury of its crew on 18 August 2016 at the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) near Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, US, according to an Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board report released on 4 May, the US Air Force (USAF) has reported.
The mishap occurred during a night tactical formation mission at the NTTR in support of a large-force exercise, said the USAF. The helicopter, assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, was trailing another aircraft in manoeuvres close to the ground when the incident occurred, said the organisation.
In an official statement, Air Combat Command explained: “The flight path of the two helicopters began to converge due to mountainous terrain. The mishap aircraft gunner observed the closing distance and called for an immediate turn away from the other helicopter. To avoid collision, the copilot made a 70-degree banked right turn. At this overbanked angle, the helicopter could no longer maintain altitude. Despite efforts to recover, the helicopter was already at a low altitude, descended rapidly, and impacted the ground.” Upon impact, the helicopter rolled, resulting in injuries to the crewmembers. They were flown to a local hospital where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released.
The HH-60G was destroyed, with an estimated a government loss of approximately $21.4 million, said the USAF. There were no civilian injuries or damage to personal property on the ground.