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'Human error' likely cause of helicopter crash

Ben McPartland · 11 Mar 2015, 11:07

Published: 11 Mar 2015 11:07 GMT+01:00

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While French investigators head to Argentina to assist in the probe to find the cause of the double helicopter crash, many experts who have viewed video footage of the collision believe human error was to blame.

The crash claimed the lives of ten people – two “experienced” Argentine pilots, and eight French nationals including three sports stars and five members of a TV production crew.

They were in the mountainous region of north-west Argentina for filming of the adventure reality TV show “Dropped” which was to be screened in France this summer.

Hours after the crash happened video footage emerged which showed the two helicopters flying close together before their rotors clipped and both aircraft plummeted to the ground.

French air safety expert Christophe Naudin told The Local he had no doubt it was a mistake by pilots who “were clearly not experienced enough”.

“There’s no other reason to explain the crash apart from human error. I don’t know how much flying they had done but they were clearly not experienced or trained well enough," he said.

“Normally when two helicopters fly together, one is designated the leader and the other follows. They need to be able to see each other at all times. But in this case neither helicopter could see the other."

Jean-Marc Genechesi, who is responsible for air operations at France Helicopters said the coming together of the two machines was unlikely to have been caused by the wind or a mechanical problem.

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“The wind by itself is not as dangerous for a helicopter as it would be for a small plane,” he told FranceTVinfo.

“There was wind, but nothing critical for these machines that weigh over two tonnes,” he said. “And we can rule out a mechanical problem because there was no smoke.”

“It looks more like human error. A problem with blind spots. On these devices the pilot is on the right and on his left he has a blind spot, because not all of the cockpit in made out of plexiglass,” Genechesi told France TV Info.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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