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Poor maintenance cited for helicopter crash

Date Posted: 2004-10-14

Okinawan officials are studying a 210-page report detailing causes of the August 13th crash of an American military helicopter in Ginowan.

Poor maintenance by overworked military technicians is blamed for the tail rotor separation on the CH-46D Sea Stallion helicopter, causing it to crash onto Okinawa International University. The 34-year-old helicopter had 7,295 flight hours when it crashed.

The report described Marine repair specialists overworked by preparations for Iraq troop movements. It noted that the maintenance crews were required to work more than 17 hours a day for three consecutive days prior to the accident in order to get their aircraft ready to fly. The U.S. military regulations require troops to get eight hours sleep each day.

The report noted an earlier incident with the same helicopter during a hover test, when a tail rotor cover fell off. The report cited the poor work environment leading up to the crash.

There were also notations that some maintenance personnel did not pass information to their supervisors about the helicopterís condition. The Okinawa Times on October 9th reported that there was a coverup by various enlisted personnel who accused each other of mishandling the cotter pin believed to have been the crash cause, and blaming a sergeant for telling everyone to keep the incident hushed up.

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