A wrongful death lawsuit is being filed against a maintenance contractor arising out of the crash of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter last year in Iraq that killed the four crew members and ten soldiers aboard. There were no survivors. The night mission was to pick up two “small kill teams” totaling 20 soldiers who had been dropped off the night before for a mission in Multaka, near the northern Iraq city of Kirkuk. The families of the dead soldiers who are from across the country will participate in the lawsuit against a unit of Massachusetts-based L-3 Communications. The mechanical work was done by a civilian contractor under contract with the Army. The contractor was L-3 Contractors, a subdivision of L-3 Communications, which does a lot of Army work.
The official Army investigation into the crash, a 224-page report known as an Article 15-6, doesn’t provide a definitive answer as to what caused the helicopter to go down. It may be as simple as a small leftover spool of wire that caused the death of four soldiers and the loss of a $5 million helicopter. Seconds into the flight, when the 18,000-pound chopper was at an altitude of about 150 feet and as the helicopter fought for higher air, the pilot in command made his last radio call: “1-2 is going down.”
Witnesses in accompanying helicopters reported between one and four rotations as the Black Hawk fell to earth. The Army investigation, obtained by The Honolulu Advertiser through the Freedom of Information Act, and the most detailed account yet of the fatal crash, found that the soldiers suffered blunt force injuries in an impact of 150 Gs. The Corpus Christi Army Depot inspected the downed Black Hawk airframe and discovered a gouged and cut tail rotor shaft. An “unknown foreign object” in the tail rotor housing traveled aft and became lodged between the housing and the tail rotor drive shaft, causing gouging and cutting damage to the tail rotor, which then failed by sheering forces while under torque, according to a report.
The Depot report concluded that the failure of the tail rotor drive shaft was the primary cause of the crash. Tail rotor control cable failure was secondary and occurred after the tail rotor problem. No pilot or crew error was discovered. Origin and responsibility for the foreign object causing damage to the tail rotor drive shaft is not known, according to the report. While the report concluded that loss of tail rotor control led to the fatal crash, it said the “foreign object causing the damage was not found.” The investigative report did note, however, that a damaged safety wire spool was recovered in the wreckage and was sent to the lab.
Source: Honolulu Advertiser
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