Engine problems may be reason for helicopter hard landing in Arkhyz

MOSCOW, September 5 (Itar-Tass) —— The hard landing of a Mi-8 helicopter in Arkhyz area in Karachai-Cherkessia, Russia’s constituent republic in the North Caucasus, on August 29, might have been caused by malfunction in one of the engines, the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) said on Monday, September 5.

The IAC commission has studied the helicopter flight recorders. “Preliminary analysis of the flight data showed that problems occurred in one of the engines during the landing. The investigating commission is determining the cause at the scene of the incident together with the representatives of the manufacturer — Motor Sich,” IAC said.

The Federal Agency for Air Transportation told Itar-Tass earlier that the “landing site was chosen from the air… It was in the mountains at a height of 1,650 metres above sea level”.

“Preliminarily, the causes of the incident are related to peculiarities of making a landing approach in the mountains,” an official at the Federal Agency for Air Transportation told Itar-Tass.

According to the Investigation Committee, a private helicopter fell on one side when making a landing on the runway in the vicinity of the settlement of Arkhyz in Karachai-Cherkessia.

“Investigators and criminalists from the Southern Investigation Department for Transport of the Investigation Committee for Karachai-Cherkessia of the Russian Investigation Committee,” the Investigation Committee said.

Those hospitalised include Deputy plenipotentiary representative of the Russian president to the Southern Federal District Maxim Bystrov. Medics describe his condition as “medium gravity”.

It was reported lately that Bystrov got only bruised. He and four other injured persons have received all the necessary medical attention, Karachai-Cherkessia’s Ministry of Health and Resorts said.

“Two pilots were diagnosed for craniocerebral injuries and they will be transferred to the republican hospital. Three passengers received light injuries and they are being attended to,” Minister Irina Gerbekova said.

“Six people with bodily injuries were taken to health institutions, the others were not injured,” the Investigation Committee told Itar-Tass earlier.

There were 13 people aboard the helicopter. North Caucasus Resorts Board Chairman Akhmed Bilanov received light injuries and refused to be taken to hospital and rushed to chair a meeting in Arkhyz.

All five persons injured as a result of the incident were taken to the Zelenchuk central district hospital.

“It was a hard landing. The helicopter was turned over to one side by a strong gust of wind five metres above ground when landing,” the Karachai-Cherkessian Interior Ministry said.

The press service of the North Caucasian regional centre of the Emergencies Ministry told Itar-Tass that there was no fire aboard the helicopter. Two officials from North Caucasus Resorts and the helicopter pilot received light injuries.

The Karachai-Cherkessian Interior Ministry said it was not an accident.

The pilots blamed the hard landing on a sudden gust of wind that it the helicopter when it was about 25 metres above the ground. One of the crewmembers appeared to have received no injuries and is now giving testimony to the investigators.

However, North Caucasus Resorts Director-General Vladimir Berezhnoi told Itar-Tass earlier, “I used to engage in parachute jumping and I can say definitely that the version of the helicopter’s hard landing being caused by a strong wind does not hold water,” he said. “There was really windy weather in Mineralnye Vody, but the weather in the Arkhyz area was calm. There were no gusts of wind.”

Berezhnoi said, “It was quite a new helicopter with good technical properties”. “And the pilot who made the flight is really a professional. I talked with him,” he said.

He said the helicopter was making a routine flight. There were 13 people onboard. “My purpose was to survey the territory as there can be no designing without knowing the territory. On the way back we were going to inspect the territory near Mount Elbrus but when we approached Arkhyz, at a distance of 30 meters from it, the helicopter began making chaotic movements, which continued for a few seconds, and then it fell,” Berezhnoi recalls.

“Five people, among them deputy presidential envoy to the North Caucasus Federal District Maxim Bystrov, were rushed to hospital with injuries,” he said.

Asked how he feels, Berezhnoi said that his present state can be said to be of “medium gravity”.

“I will soon be taken to Moscow, and I hope to get back to work shortly,” he said.

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