TEL AVIV (Oct. 1)
A tragic coincidence of engine malfunction, bad weather and difficult terrain led to the crash of an Israel Defense Force Bell-212 helicopter last week in which five soldiers were killed and five injured, according to the preliminary report of a military commission investigating the disaster.
The helicopter was on a training exercise in support of ground forces when it slammed into the side of a gorge in the Beit Shean Valley. The interim report said that the most experienced pilot could not have avoided the crash. But no conclusions will be drawn until the final report is submitted to the Air Force Commander.
The report cited the failure of one of the helicopter’s two engines. But given good weather and flat ground, the pilot might have been able to make a safe emergency landing. In this instance, however, the weather was bad and the aircraft was maneuvering over rugged mountainous terrain and apparently lacked the power to scale the walls of the gorge.
The final report is expected to concentrate on the delay in the arrival of rescue teams. They took three hours to reach the scene of the crash. Initial accounts attributed the delay to the difficult terrain.