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Black Hawk Long Considered the Workhorse of Army Aviation

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FORT BRAGG — In the last ten years, Army Black Hawk crashes have claimed 69 lives.But,the chopper's safety record has significantly improved since the PersianGulf War. A Fort Bragg spokesman calls the Black Hawk extremely reliable.WRAL's military expert also considers the chopper safe.

The Army has been flying UH-60 Black Hawks since the 70's. The chopper has become a real workhorse, putting in more flight time than any otherArmy aircraft. The Black Hawk can carry troops or equipment. It can beused in assaults, medical evacuations, and electronic warfare. Thechopper's top speed exceeds 200 miles per hour.

Retired Air Force Officer, Leutenant General Robert Springer alsoconsiders the Black Hawk safe. Springer says they haven't had that manyaccidents versus the number of flying hours or the number of take-offs andlandings. Springer also emphasizes that the Black Hawk has two engines,soone can fail and the chopper can still recover.

It's been almost nine years since a Black Hawk crash left casualities atFort Bragg. Last year, two Black Hawks collided during training at FortCampbell. Investigators blamed human error.

Statistically, Springer believes somewhere around 70% of all accidents arecaused by a person. That figure includes commercial, general, andmilitary aviation-- both fixed wing and helicopter.

We don't know yet what caused Tuesday's crash, but it shows there arerisks even during routine training. Springer believes the tragedy is acase of eight young Americans going their jobs, taking risks for trainingfor combat for the United States. Unfortunately, eight good Americanlives were lost as a result.

The unit whose chopper went down is not flying today, instead the focusis on coping with the tragedy. However, other units at Fort Bragg areflying Black Hawks so, there's been no decision to ground them.

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