Helicopter crash in French Alps kills 6 Eurocopter employees
Thursday, 26 July 2012 09:29
The Eurocopter AS532 AL Cougar, built for the Albanian Air Force, had taken off from the manufacturerâ€™s headquarters in Marseille along the Mediterranean coast before plunging into Verdon Gorge near the village of La-Palud-sur-Verdon, about 60 miles to the northeast.
Eurocopter AS532 Cougar operated by the Bulgarian Army, similar with
the crashed in French Alps, kills 6 Eurocopter employees.
The river gorge is up to 2,300 ft (700 m) deep in some places, making recovery efforts difficult, authorities said.
One hiker on the ground who witnessed the crash was also slightly injured.
Witnesses said the helicopter was flying low over the area may have hit a powerline, a theory authorities were investigating.
The AS532 Cougar is the military variant of the civilian Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma. Operated by dozens of military forces around the world, the AS532 can transport up to 29 troops and 2 pilots.
Police said a preliminary investigation suggested the helicopter may have hit an electric cable.
Eurocopter, a unit of European aerospace group EADS, said in a statement that the downed aircraft was a Cougar AS532 AL helicopter and that six people were on board.
It had taken off shortly before the crash from a heliport near the Mediterranean port city of Marseille for a test flight before delivery to a client.
The six people on board were company employees and included test engineers, a Eurocopter spokeswoman said.
Police said search teams were at the site investigating the cause of the crash.
"The accident occurred in a place that's very difficult to access, which is complicating our work," Benoit Gounine, a regional police lieutenant, told Reuters.
Eurocopter's website described the helicopter as a military aircraft that can accommodate 25 combat-ready troops or be used for search and rescue, medical evacuation or fire support missions, among other uses.
The Verdon Gorge is a stunning river canyon, popular with hikers, that runs about 2,300 feet deep.
Eurocopter is a subsidiary of the multinational aerospace conglomerate EADS, which also owns the airplane builder Airbus.(Routers/NYCAviation/AC)