The unintended closure of two helicopters and a pilot’s overcorrection to avoid collision resulted in the crash of an HH-60G helicopter and the injury of its crew on Aug. 18, 2016, at the Nevada Test and Training Range near Nellis AFB, Nev., according to an Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board report released today.
The mishap occurred during a night tactical formation mission at the NTTR in support of a large-force exercise. The helicopter, assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., was trailing another aircraft in maneuvers close to the ground when the mishap occurred.
The flight path of the two helicopters began to converge due to mountainous terrain. The mishap aircraft gunner observed the closing distance and called for an immediate turn away from the other helicopter. To avoid collision, the copilot made a 70-degree banked right turn. At this overbanked angle, the helicopter could no longer maintain altitude. Despite efforts to recover, the helicopter was already at a low altitude, descended rapidly, and impacted the ground.
Upon impact, the helicopter rolled, resulting in injuries to the crewmembers. The crewmembers were flown to a local hospital where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released.
The HH-60G was completely destroyed, with a government loss of approximately $21.4 million.
There were no civilian injuries or damage to personal property on the ground.