Army experts say Monday’s fatal Blackhawk helicopter crash in Southern Maryland stresses the dangers faced by military flight crews, even in peacetime missions.
The U.S. Army says the crew was on a routine training mission from Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia.
“Helicopters are a riskier form of flight, they just are,” said Joe Katzman of Defense Industry Daily. “Sadly, these things happen.”
This is the second crash of a military aircraft in Maryland in as many weeks.
On April 5, a D.C. Air National Guard pilot successfully ejected from his stricken F-16C near Joint Base Andrews just after a training flight began. In both cases, nobody on the ground was hurt.
The Army relies heavily on the $16 million UH-60 Blackhawk with more than 2,000 of the aircraft in its inventory.
“Helicopters are convenient,” said Katzman. “They can do things that nothing else can do. And the price you pay is sometimes they go down.”
When faced with an emergency, helicopter pilots are left with few options. After a catastrophic engine failure, pilots descend toward the ground rapidly to speed up the rotors and cushion the landing at the last second.
The Army has not said the cause of the accident. A crash investigation team will arrive from Alabama Tuesday.