The Swiss Air Force on Wednesday 28 September endured it third crash in three months, as a AS532 Super Puma crashed in the Gotthard area. Images on social media show a burning helicopter. Two fatalities were confirmed by the Swiss Ministry of Defense several hours after the accident. The crash follows that of an F-5 Tiger in June and an F-18 Hornet in August.
The cause of today’s crash is not yet clear, but it took place in a relatively flat area in the otherwise mountainous Gotthard region in Switzerland. The Swiss have been operating Puma and Super Puma helicopters for decades.
The crash of an F-5 Tiger on 9 June was the result of an collision with another F-5 of the Patrouille Suisse display team during an airshow over Leeuwarden in the Netherlands. The pilot ejected while his jet came down in a small lake.
The crash of an F-18 Hornet took place near Meiringen air base in central Switzerland. The pilot was unfortunately killed as his jet impacted the side of a mountain. The accident is still being investigated, but preliminary results say the aircraft was flying lower than was required.
It seems very unlikely the recent crashes are in anyway connected. Nevertheless, re-checking safety procedures may be a wise thing to do for the Swiss. The US Navy recently did a similar thing after a quick string of crashes with military aircraft.
An Airbus A321 belonging to Russian airline Kogalymavia/Metrojet has crashed in the Sinaï desert in Egypt on Saturday 31 October. Over 100 bodies have already been recovered from the wreckage. Local authorities say all 224 persons on board lost their lives. The aircaft took off from Sharm-el-Sheikh 23 minutes before the crash and was heading to Sint-Petersburg with flight number #7K926.
The cause of the crash is still unknown. According to Flightradar24.com, vertical speed reached 600 ft per minute prior to loss of contact. Noteworthy is that terrorist groups are known to operate in the area where the plane went down.
One of the aircraft black boxes was found several hours after the crash. Meanwhile, Russia has opened up a criminal investigation and Russian president Vladimir Putin expressed his condolances to the families of the victims.
Metrojet operates five A321s and last June signed a deal for four more. Airbus says the accident airrcaft was produced in 1997 and since 2012 operated by Metrojet. The aircraft had accumulated some 56000 flight hours in nearly 21000 flights. It was powered by IAE-V2500 engines.
UPDATE 18 October 2015 | A Swiss Air Force Boeing F/A-18D Hornet crashed on Wednesday 14 October in the French area of Glamondans dans le Doubs, just over the Swiss border. The pilot ejected from his aircraft and was brought to a hospital in ok condition. The crash happened in the morning and Swiss authorities confirmed the accident in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
Update 18 October | The Swiss Air Force has temporarily put limits on high angle of attack manoeuvres following the crash
The pilot took off from Payerne airbase in Switzerland, not far from where the crash occured. The aircraft was involved in a training exercise with two Swiss F-5 Tigers when things went wrong. The cause is under investigation.
A US Air Force F-16 fighter jet crashed on Tuesday 11 August in southern Germany, according to reports in German media. The aircraft apparently suffered engine troubles, forcing the pilot to eject. He sustained minor injuries.
The crash happened at 09.38 hours local time near the town of Bayreuth in Bavaria. The aircraft came down in a wooded area. The aircraft was stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base, home to the US Air Force’s 52nd Fighter Wing flying Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighter jets.
The accident happened during a training flight over the US Army training facility in Grafenwöhr, according to the USAF. Following the crash, the 52nd Fighter Wing cancelled flying operations for 24 hours for safety reasons.
UPDATED 10 MAY 2015 | An Airbus A400M military transport aircraft has crashed in Sevilla (Seville), Spain, on Saturday 9 May. The aircraft came down shortly after take off from Aeropuerto de Sevilla, where the Airbus A400M is produced. Four people are known to have died. Two more occupants were rushed to hospital with severe injuries, according to local authorities. Malaysia, Germany, Turkey and the UK have suspended A400M flights as a precaution.
The crash happened around 12.45pm local time at the start of a test flight, with the aircraft coming down in a field. Radar images suggest the aircraft took of from runway 09, turned left to the North, but kept turning left until impacting the ground to the Northeast of the airport. Images from the scene – see below – suggest the crew attempted landing in a field, but hit power lines sparking a fire.
Sevilla airport was closed immediately, with other flights being diverted. The accident is the second major military aviation incident in Spain this year, following the fatal crash of a Greek F-16 at Albacete in January.
Turkish Air Force
The A400M involved was the third destined for the Turkish Air Force and it was to perform its very first flight. Airbus on Saturday afternoon issued a statement on the crash. The complete statement:
“We confirm that there has been an accident with an A400M in Sevilla. At this point, we can confirm that the aircraft is MSN23, an aircraft foreseen for the Turkish customer. The crisis room is open. A Go-Team is on its way to Sevilla. We are coordinating with the relevant authorities. We will come back in due time with any confirmed information as soon as available.”
The accident, whatever the cause, is a devastating blow to the already troubled A400M project and Airbus. The A400M, which first flew on 11 December 2009, is plagued by teething problems, much to the dismal of the German Air Force.
Airbus took actions earlier this year to solve supply problems and speed up production. Changes were also made high in the Airbus Defense & Space organization. Airbus this week reported on tests with defensive systems on a UK A400M.
According to reports the Royal Air Force grounded its two A400Ms following the crash, with the Luftwaffe following suite with its sole A400M. Malaysia also stated it is suspending operations with its single A400M. No word about grounding (yet) of the A400Ms in service with France.
A total of twelve A400Ms are now in use with the air forces of France, the UK, Germany, Turkey and Malaysia. The type is set to replace large numbers of older C-130 Hercules C-160 Transall transport aircraft in these air forces. Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain have also ordered the A400M. The order total stands at 174, according to Airbus figures.