Damage to Army helicopter in Colo. crash: $25.8M

AP News
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Posted: Mar 09, 2011 5:41 PM
Damage to Army helicopter in Colo. crash: $25.8M

An Army helicopter that crash-landed during a high-altitude training mission in Colorado last year suffered $25.8 million in damage, officials revealed this week.

The replacement price for the AH-64D Longbow helicopter from the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., is between $25 million and $30 million, the Army said. It wasn't immediately known whether the Army would try to repair the aircraft.

The helicopter was attempting to land at about 12,200 feet above sea level June 30 when it crashed.

Two pilots were aboard. One suffered two broken legs, a broken nose and internal injuries. The other was treated and released.

Their names haven't been released.

An Army investigation blamed the pilots for the crash, saying they put themselves and the helicopter in a situation where they had little or no margin for error, and they didn't react properly to audible warnings and other indications that the helicopter was flying beyond its limits.

The investigation was also critical of the training program, designed to prepare Army pilots for Afghanistan. It said the rescue took so long that the more seriously injured pilot's condition became critical before he was airlifted to a hospital, and that the program "focuses almost exclusively" on landing at high elevations even though helicopters have little need to do that in Afghanistan.

Commanders are awaiting the final report of an investigation into the damage before deciding whether the pilots will face any disciplinary action, said Julie Cupernall, a Fort Drum spokeswoman.

Both pilots are still in the Army. Cupernall declined to release any information about the more seriously injured pilot's recovery, citing privacy concerns.

Cupernall said the Army changed the training program after the crash, but she provided no specifics.

The High Altitude Mountain Environment Training Strategy program is modeled on the Colorado Army National Guard's High-Altitude Aviation Training but is separate from it.