HEIDELBERG, Germany - A U.S. Army helicopter crash that killed six people in Italy last November was caused by mechanical malfunction and not pilot error, a military investigation has found.
The incident, which prompted a check of all Black Hawk helicopters in Europe, was caused by a loss of control over the helicopter's sideways rotation, U.S. Army Europe said Thursday.
The cause of the control loss was not determined, the Army said, but "there was no evidence of pilot error or environmental factors contributing to the accident."
The UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, attached to 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment, was on a training flight and had 11 service members aboard when it crashed, the Army said. It began a slow left turn and then fell into a diving spin and crashed into the Piave River training area near Aviano Air Base, according to details of the investigation.
The UH-60 Black Hawk is the Army's general utility helicopter, often used for transporting troops and equipment, air assault, medical evacuations and to support special operations.
Army officials said the helicopter had reported no problems during its flight but when it began a left turn, the pilot and co-pilot were unable to stop it and "the aircraft descended directly beneath that point and impacted the ground."
The dad included an airman who ceremonially re-enlisted aboard the flight.
Killed were U.S. Army Capt. Christian P. Skoglund and Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Davidangelo F. Alvarez, both of whom were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment.
Also killed were U.S. Air Force Capt. Cartize Durham, Air Force Staff Sgts. Robert D. Rogers and Mark A. Spence and Sr. Airman Kenneth P. Haupich Jr., all of whom were assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano.