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Missing tail rotor part gets blame for crash

Date Posted: 2004-09-03

A military officer says the cause of last month’s CH-53D helicopter crash in Ginowan was a fault unique to the one aircraft.

Speaking on conditions of anonymity, the senior U.S. Marine Corps officer from the Third Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Courtney defended the U.S. military's resumption of flights of the same type of aircraft, saying the problem that brought the giant Sea Stallion transport helicopter down was not a systemic problem.

The officer said U.S. investigators had found that the chopper lost tail rotor control due to the loss of a small retaining device in the assembly. "We do not know why that part was missing, whether there was a material failure or whether the retaining pin was not installed properly," he said, noting the investigation is still ongoing into why the part was lost. "We just don't know at this point."

An initial report on the crash is expected tomorrow, with a full investigation finding promised by authorities within a month.

The helicopter crashed Aug. 13 on Okinawa International University’s campus several hundred yards from the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station during a training flight. The three crew members were injured in the crash.

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