Copter tragedy: Fennec helicopter not flying at appropriate height, says Navy

KUALA LUMPUR: The Eurocopter AS555SN Fennec (Fennec) helicopter not flying at the set height and path has been identified as the main factor behind the naval helicopter crashes in Lumut.

Royal Malaysian Navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Ayob said the Investigation Board had not found any data that connected the incident to any human error on the part of the Fennec crew as there was no black box on the aircraft.

"The board has concluded that there was no human error involved as the Fennec did not have a black box to summarise a connection to human error by the pilot.

"What we can conclude is Fennec was not at the set height and flight path," he told a press conference at KD Sri Gombak on Thursday (May 30).

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The secondary factor is that the "channelised attention" of the Agusta-Westland AW-139 (AW 139) crew was focused on the change of flight path and this limited their reaction time to avoid collision, he said.

“This full report tallies with the preliminary report that had been issued previously. This report will be sent to the State Airworthiness Authority (SAA) for record purposes,” he said.

Admiral Abdul Rahman said following a comprehensive investigation, the Investigation Board discovered that there was no issue of hypoglycemia or fatigue on the part of the aircrew and there was no use of banned substances. All crewmen were fit to fly.

"Their deaths were caused as a result of multiple injuries due to aviation crash," he said

The AW139 helicopter did not experience any mechanical problem based on analysis of the black box.

"The same can be said for the Fennec based on visual and sound analysis.

"The maintenance of both aircraft were done according to procedures and routines set by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

"Samples of lubricant and fuel taken were inspected and it was confirmed to be normal by the Defence Science and Technology Institute (Stride)," he said.

The full report also stated that the weather on the day of incident was good and suitable for flight, he said.

"For the AW139, the black box was used to assist the investigation while for the Fennec, flight profile through air simulation using an actual helicopter was used.

"Cooperation from the OEM was sought to assist the investigation as well. Airbus Helicopter confirmed that there was no equipment that had non-volatile memory on the Fennec to assist investigations," he said.

When asked on the statuses of both aircraft in their fleet, he said that the Navy will increase the readiness of available aircraft.

“We had three AW-139s and now only two helicopters remain, and will still be based at their set locations,”

“For the Fennec (helicopters) we have four from the six that are in operation as one also currently is damaged. We are in the midst of increasing readiness of available aircraft and are trying to get allocation for new helicopters either through direct purchasing or leasing,”

Admiral Abdul Rahman also emphasised that the welfare of the families affected were being prioritised.

“At the same time, service and benefit payments in the form of monthly pensions to eligible next of kin have begun.

"Other contributions from sympathetic parties via the collection we opened, which is the ‘Tabung Tragedi Lumut 24’ are still ongoing and god willing, it is well received.

"When we close the collection in October, the proceeds will be distributed to the families by then or November," he said.

He added that the Navy had met families based in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday and will do the same for those in Lumut on Friday (May 31) to brief them on the findings of the full report.

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helicopters , crashes , Navy , Abdul Rahman Ayob


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