Preliminary information into the fatal crash of an IAF cobra helicopter gunship during the night reveals an electrical malfunction may have been the cause, based on an eye witness report.
Brigadier-General (Reserves) Gabi Shachor, who is the commander of the Palmachim Base, released a statement early on Tuesday morning 1 Nissan 5773 that the crew of the chopper did not report any malfunctions or send a distress signal. He feels that this makes an electrical malfunction a high possibility as the cause of the crash. Walla News quotes the senior air force commander explaining this is the direction investigators will take as they begin probing the crash. Shachor feels something “major” occurred very suddenly, possibly a total cessation of the plane’s electrical system, even for a very brief period.
The last transmission from the choppers was “We are six minutes out from landing. We are heading back to Palmachim.”
Eye witness to the crash Tzvika Finjel told the media that he was in a caravan home about 500 meters from the crash. “It was about 01:00 and I heard a helicopter and suddenly, it stopped working and then it started up again. It appeared as if the chopper’s rotor stopped and suddenly I heard the crash. We went out and saw smoke. At first we were really scared to approach the helicopter but once we saw forces in the area we ran and saw the remains of the helicopter, rotor parts and other pieces of the chopper.”
Channel 2 News reported on Tuesday morning that the chopper did not burn on impact, but it did break into several pieces. The report adds the pilots were “killed instantly”.
Killed in the crash were Lt.-Colonel Noam Ron z”l, 49, from Oranit and Major Erez Flekser z”l, 31, from Haifa.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)