Local News

Black Hawk Long Considered the Workhorse of Army Aviation

Posted July 9, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— In the last ten years, Army Black Hawk crashes have claimed 69 lives. But, the chopper's safety record has significantly improved since the Persian Gulf 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 other Army aircraft. The Black Hawk can carry troops or equipment. It can be used in assaults, medical evacuations, and electronic warfare. The chopper's top speed exceeds 200 miles per hour.

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

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

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

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

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