NEWS | April 21, 2022

Investigation completed for the two Utah Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawks involved in training accident

By Lt. Col. Jaime Thomas Utah National Guard

The investigation into the two Utah Army National Guard Regiment UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters that were involved in a training accident while conducting winter survivability and mobility training near Mineral Basin Feb. 22, 2022, has been completed.

The investigation was conducted by an accident investigation board that was constituted under the authority of Army Regulation 15-6, Procedures for Administrative Investigations and Boards of Officers. The Utah National Guard requested support from the South Carolina National Guard to conduct the investigation. The investigation board consisted of six South Carolina Army National Guard Officers: a colonel, who is a senior UH-60 Black Hawk pilot and aviation safety officer, served as president of the board; the rest of the board included a UH-60 standardization pilot; an aviation safety officer; an aviation medical officer; an aviation maintenance officer; and a recorder.

The findings of the investigation concluded the following:

On February 22, 2022, two Utah Army National Guard UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters were involved in an accident near the Snowbird Utah, Mineral Basin area. At approximately 9:35 a.m., as the two helicopters approached the helicopter landing zone, the trail aircraft (chalk 2) descended below the lead aircraft (chalk 1) and entered white-out conditions. In the white-out conditions, the pilot in command (PC) of chalk 2 could not determine his position in relation to the helicopter landing zone and relied on aircraft flight instruments as a reference as he attempted to land. As chalk 2 contacted the ground, the aircraft drifted right causing the aircraft to roll on its side. As the aircraft rolled, the main rotor blades broke apart and a piece of the main rotor blade hit the lead aircraft, causing a catastrophic mechanical failure of the tail rotor. After completing a full spin, chalk one was safely landed by the pilot in command. 

The investigation board found the cause of the accident to be human error on the part of the pilot in command of chalk 2. The board also found the actions of the pilot in command of chalk 1 to be commendable as the pilot was able to land the aircraft with no serious injuries to any crew members. 

Both aircraft received damage to the main rotor blades, tail rotor blades, driveshaft and gearbox components, stabilators, engines, transmissions, as well as structural frame damage. The estimated cost of damages is $9.23 million. The Utah National Guard is awaiting disposition instructions for the aircraft from Army Material Command. National Guard Bureau has identified two replacement aircraft that will arrive in Utah this month.

The Utah National Guard is reevaluating all HLZs to determine their suitability for training operations. At this time, there are no future operations planned using HLZ Falcon. 

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