Interim Report of IDF Crash Unable to Determine Cause

Last week, there was a deadly helicopter crash that occurred off the coast of Haifa. However, the military stated on Thursday night that an investigation into the crash has not been able to determine the reason behind the technical malfunction that occurred. Two pilots lost their lives in the incident, while a third crew member was rescued. The helicopter was the Atalef AS565 Panther and a fire had broken out in its left engine after which it went down and then crashed off the coast. The two pilots who died in the crash were Maj. Hen Fogel and Lt.- Col Erez Sachaini. Cpt. Ron Birman, a naval officer, was the third member of the crew and he was rescued from the aircraft. 

On Wednesday, Maj. Gen Amikam Norkin, the head of the Israel Air Force, was given the interim report of the investigation into the crash. The military believes that it was likely a fire in the left engine that resulted in the crash of the helicopter. The preliminary investigation also showed that the right engine of the aircraft also had some signs of damage. However, they have not found any signs of fire as yet in the remains of the helicopter. 

Even though the technical malfunction was quite complex, which had developed rapidly in dark conditions and also at an altitude of about 700 to 800 meters above sea level, the crew was still able to identify it. Not only did the crew identify the malfunction when it occurred, but they also activated the engine’s fire extinguishing system and also shut down the aircraft’s electrical system to prevent the fire from spreading. Most importantly, the crew also operated the emergency buoyancy system of the aircraft in order to make a landing at sea. The report also showed that there had been no indications of birds hitting the aircraft. 

Neither were there any indications that another aircraft had hit the helicopter or that it had been downed because of any hostile activity. The report further highlighted that there wasn’t any evidence of the pilots attempting to exit the helicopter, probably because of injuries they had sustained in the crash. Plus, the circumstances would have prevented the rescue forces from being able to save them. The report further added that the sea had been relatively calm when the crash occurred, which allowed Birman to be rescued. After the crash, all pieces of the helicopter that were recovered were taken for the investigation to the Tel Nof airbase. 

They are conducting the investigation with the cooperation of the French company that builds the aircraft in question. They have also restored the helicopter’s recording system as part of the investigation and they will send the engines to France for further investigation. As they have not yet determined the cause of the fire, the fleet is still grounded. Norkin said that the incident was an unfortunate and serious one. He added that every accident can be prevented and they would continue investigating to get to the truth. 

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