AAIB confirms helicopters collided mid-air in Taman Melawati

PETALING JAYA: The Air Accident Investigation Bureau's (AAIB) preliminary report of its investigation into a crash involving two helicopters in Taman Melawati in November confirms that a mid-air collision did occur and investigators are now ascertaining how it happened and how it could have been prevented.

The bureau, which comes under the Transport Ministry, also revealed that the two Guimbal Cabri G2 helicopters, registered as 9M-HCA and 9M-HCB, had maintained a distance between 50m and 120m of each other at all times.

"However at 11.44am, for reasons still unknown, the helicopters started to converge and collided a few seconds later," the report stated.

The report also revealed that passenger Tan Chai Eian, who was in 9M-HCA alerted its pilot, ex-MAS group chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, that the other helicopter was getting closer.

Ahmad Jauhari immediately took evasive action but it was too late as the main rotor blades of 9M-HCB impacted the skids of 9M-HCA.

The impact also caused 9M-HCB's rotor blade to break and fly off mid-flight and was later recovered.

The report also revealed that the two aircraft indicated in their flight plan that they would be "flying in company", which also raised questions among investigators.

"A quick check into the local Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) reveals that the only rule similar to what has been practised can be found under formation flights.

"Formation flying is without a doubt a discipline in itself...any lapse in discipline could lead to catastrophic results," it said.

The AAIB will be conducting further investigations into the incident.

AAIB's full report can be found on the Transport Ministry's website.

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) will look into making additional training a requirement for private clubs and operators, which is aimed at increasing awareness and competency among aviation enthusiasts.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said CAAM would also launch a review of existing rules and procedures to identify and improve any present inadequacies to avoid a repeat of the tragedy.

"This measure puts the safety and security of all private aviation enthusiasts as a top priority, without impinging on the business growth and enjoyment of general aviation.

"We wish to remind the public that the main objective of the investigation is to determine the circumstances and cause of the accident with an aim to safeguard lives and prevent future accidents," he said.

On Nov 8, the helicopters took off from the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang for a round trip to Genting Sempah.

The helicopters are said to have collided around 11.45am causing 9M-HCB to crash while 9M-HCA managed a safe emergency landing at a school field in Taman Melawati.

The crash killed pilot Mohd Sabri Baharom, 56, and passenger Mohd Irfan Fikri Mohd Rawi, 41 while Ahmad Jauhari, 66, and Tan, 51, were uninjured.

The four belonged to the My Heli Club based at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport and Jauhari is the club's president.

The club had secured CAAM approval to offer Helicopters’ Private Pilot Licence - PPL (H) - training programmes to its members.

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