Human error cited in Army helicopter crash on Colorado’s Mount Massive
January 22, 2010
DENVER (AP) – Human error is to blame for the crash of a Black Hawk helicopter on a Colorado mountain that killed all four crew members in August, the Army said Friday.
An investigation found the helicopter didn’t have enough power for the high-altitude landing it was attempting near the summit of 14,421-foot Mount Massive during a training mission, Army spokeswoman Kimberly Tiscione said.
Tiscione said the investigation concluded the crew’s flight plan didn’t take into account the helicopter’s performance limits at that altitude. No mechanical failures were identified.
The helicopter and crew were from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, known as the Night Stalkers, at Fort Campbell, Ky.
The investigation did not assign blame to specific individuals, but the pilots are ultimately responsible for mission planning, Tiscione said.
The pilots were Chief Warrant Officer 4 Terrance W. Geer, 40, and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert M. Johnson, 41. Both were instructor pilots and combat veterans with multiple deployments. Officials haven’t said which man was at the controls.
Geer was also an aviation safety officer and Johnson was an instrument flight examiner.
Also killed were Staff Sgt. Chad A. Tucker, 28, a helicopter mechanic, and Staff Sgt. Paul R. Jackson, 33, an aviation standardization noncommissioned officer.
All four crew members were decorated combat veterans with 10 to 20 deployments each. Tiscione praised their experience, knowledge and dedication.
She said the unit has changed its procedures to make sure altitude is taken into account when such missions are planned.
Tiscione said the Night Stalkers often must fly in extreme conditions, including high-altitude takeoffs and landings, and they train in Colorado and elsewhere to get accustomed to those conditions.