Pilot error caused a fatal midair collision of two Joint Base Lewis-McChord Kiowa helicopters during a December training accident, according to an Army report released today to Northwest News Network.
KUOW’s Austin Jenkins reports that the internal Army investigation found that one helicopter “flew directly into the side of the second chopper bringing both aircraft to the ground.”
Jenkins also reported that “radar and radio communications are limited” in the Thurston County area where the Army conducts nighttime training flights.
That’s significant for Lewis-McChord’s growing aviation units. The base is now home to a new combat aviation brigade with 44 more helicopters than it had a year ago. All totaled, Lewis-McChord has 143 active duty helicopters stationed in the South Sound.
The Dec. 12 accident killed four Army aviators and rattled the South Sound’s military community. A more detailed investigation is expected to be completed this summer.