Board of Enquiry set up to investigate helicopter crash

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

KwaZulu-Natal - The Department of Defence and Military Veterans has convened a Board of Enquiry to investigate the cause of yesterday's helicopter crash in KwaZulu-Natal.

The accident, which occurred during a training flight, left three members of the South African Air Force (SAAF) dead.

According to the department, the crash, involving the Agusta A109 helicopter, was en route to Dragon's Peak Park, flying past the upper Tugela River when it plunged into the Woodstock Dam and sank.

Although the SANDF divers and helicopter search teams searched tirelessly for the bodies of the occupants - who were suspected to have drowned - none were found.

"The cause of the accident is still unknown," the department said in a statement.

The Agusta A109 helicopter is one the helicopters acquired as part of the department's Strategic Arms Procurement Package approved by Cabinet in 2001.

In 2007, the department received seven of the 30 ordered Agusta A109 Light Utility Helicopters.

Among other things, the package also included the Gripen, Hawk and the SA Navy's shipborne Super Lynx helicopters, as well as the Rooivalk and Oryx.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Chief of the SANDF, General Godfrey Ngwenya have extended their deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the deceased.

The names of the deceased will be released once their next of kin have been informed.