Two Army helicopters that crashed into each other last week in Alaska, killing three soldiers, collided over a rugged mountainous area in fair weather, the Army said Wednesday.
The two AH-64 Apache helicopters were returning to Fort Wainwright from an aerial gunnery range southeast of Fairbanks when they collided. The cause of the collision is still under investigation.
The Army said there were no weather issues or visual constraints at the time.
Killed in the collision were Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christopher Robert Eramo, 39, of Oneonta, New York; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kyle D. McKenna, 28, of Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Warrant Officer 1 Stewart Duane Wayment, 32, of North Logan, Utah.
All three were assigned to the 1st Attack Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment at Fort Wainwright. A fourth soldier remains hospitalized.
The collision occurred weeks after two Black Hawk helicopters collided in Kentucky, killing nine soldiers. In response to both incidents, the Army issued a service-wide stand-down for aviation units to complete mandatory safety training.
“The safety of our aviators is our top priority, and this stand down is an important step to make certain we are doing everything possible to prevent accidents and protect our personnel,” Gen. James McConville, the Army’s top officer, said in a statement. “During this stand down, we will focus on safety and training protocols to ensure our pilots and crews have the knowledge, training and awareness to safely complete their assigned mission.”