IDF chief’s chopper experienced motor failure, dropped to 100 feet from ground
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IDF chief’s chopper experienced motor failure, dropped to 100 feet from ground

Military says crew managed to fly helicopter to nearby base; Kohavi and other officers’ lives were not in danger, but TV report says mid-air malfunction nearly ended in ‘disaster’

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israel's ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, left, with United Nation's Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, center, and IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, in a helicopter as they review the security situation along Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, August 30, 2017. (Israel UN/Shlomi Amsalem)
Illustrative. Israel's ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, left, with United Nation's Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, center, and then-IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, in a helicopter as they review the security situation along Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, August 30, 2017. (Israel UN/Shlomi Amsalem)

A transport helicopter carrying the IDF chief of staff experienced a technical malfunction in mid-air last week, forcing it to make a rapid landing at a nearby base after it plummeted to some 30 meters (100 feet) from the ground, according to a TV report.

The Israel Defense Forces, which confirmed that the incident occurred, said the glitch was not life-threatening, but Channel 12, which first reported on the matter, said the incident nearly led to a “disaster” due to incorrect handling of the situation by the flight crew.

According to the military, one of the Black Hawk helicopter’s motors experienced a “technical malfunction” while transporting IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and other top officers.

“The immediate actions by the flight crew allowed them to handle the malfunction safely, and at no time was there a threat to the lives of the passengers,” the IDF said.

Illustrative. A military helicopter searches for missing people near the Dead Sea on April 26, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

However, according to Channel 12, the flight crew behaved incorrectly during the incident, shutting down the aircraft’s working motor instead of the failing one, causing the helicopter to quickly lose altitude — down to roughly 30 meters (100 feet) from the ground — before they realized their error and corrected it, enabling the aircraft to stabilize.

The helicopter, which was transporting Kohavi from the Knesset in Jerusalem to an undisclosed military base, was then able to land at the Tel Nof Air Base in central Israel, from which a second helicopter ferried the army chief the rest of the way, the military said.

The IDF said the incident was being investigated.

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