By Staff Writer | August 1, 2008
An Australian Army Black Hawk crashed during an attempted shipboard landing in part because its squadron’s pilots were pushing the limits of their skills and their aircraft to support special-forces operations, according an official inquiry into the crash.
The detachment of 171 Sqdn had been at sea for 25 days when the Sikorsky Aircraft helicopter crashed onto the aft flight deck of the HMAS Kanimbla and fell into the sea on Nov. 29, 2006. Nine of the 10 personnel onboard were rescued. The pilot, Capt. Mark Bingley, died from his injuries. Trooper Joshua Porter was lost. His body was recovered in March 2007.
A board of inquiry concluded the “principal and overarching cause of the crash was pilot error,” said Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, chief of the Australian Defence Force, but “as is often the case, the accident was the result of a combination of factors.”
The board found pilots in 171 Sqdn, to support special operations, “were flying on, or close to the limits of the aircraft, thereby reducing or eliminating their margin for error.”
Bingley’s mother issued a statement that he was “safety conscious and would never knowingly or intentionally put his life, the life of his crew or passengers or the aircraft” at risk.