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Pilot error 'main cause in Black Hawk crash'


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Pilot error 'main cause in Black Hawk crash'


By Online parliamentary correspondent Emma Rodgers


Posted 1 hour 36 minutes ago


Updated 37 minutes ago


Black Hawk crash ... 'unchecked level of complacency' (ABC News: file photo)






The squadron involved in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in 2006 took high risks as safety standards eroded, had a 'can-do' attitude and were not adequately supervised, an inquiry has found.


The inquiry into the crash, presided over by retired NSW Supreme Court justice David Lavine, also found that the main cause of the crash was pilot error, but that this could not be viewed in isolation with other factors.


The report's findings were released today by the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who was given the report over six months ago.


"As is often the case the accident was a result of a culmination of factors," he said.


The Black Hawk crashed while attempting to land on HMAS Kanimbla during a training exercise on November 29, 2006.


The crash killed pilot Captain Mark Bingley and Special Air Service Trooper Joshua Porter after the Black Hawk slammed into the deck of the ship and plunged into the sea.


The report has made 56 recommendations to reduce risk, of which Air Chief Marshal Houston says 56 have been agreed to, one of which is that the squadron's flying standards be audited.


"These operations require a very fine balance between safety and achieving the mission," he said.


"The squadron's 'can-do' attitude meant they were taking greater risks to achieve their missions. This led to an erosion of their safety standards."


The board of inquiry found that pilots of 171 Squadron had progressively become more aggressive in their flying, virtually eliminating any margin of error.


However it said the pilots believed that their actions were authorised.


"They eventually got to a situation where they were flying on the absolute limit...they went past the right balance of safety and mission achievement," Air Chief Marshall Houston said.


"The squadron's 'can-do' attitude meant they were taking greater risks to achieve their missions. This led to an erosion of their safety standards."


However, Air Chief Marshal Houston said no disciplinary action would be taken against anyone.


He also confirmed that a Black Hawk was involved in a "heavy landing" during an exercise in East Timor, last year.


A copy of the report has been given to the families of Captain Bingley and SAS Trooper Joshua Porter.



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I could accept that finding if the sea and other conditions at the time meant that a can-do, high risk, mission-at-all-costs landing was needed on the Kanimbla on that day.




But from the video, the conditions didn't look overly poor except that the wind may have been at a bad angle. Based on what I observed, the chopper appeared to come in hot and low and it looked to me like the pilot either totally mucked it up or he was partly out of control due to a system failure somewhere.




I just don't accept that any experienced pilot would try what was tried on that video if he had full control and a 100% functioning aircraft around him.




Just my $0.02 worth.




Regards Geoff



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Military pilots have crashed several rescue helicopters in the last few years and they definitely have a Gung Ho attitude. So it would appear to be an acceptable finding to me. Of course the pilots family will be very upset.



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