Human Error To Blame For Army Black Hawk Crash <





Human Error To Blame For Army Black Hawk Crash

By Mike Mitchell

January 23, 2010 - Back on August 19, 2009, An Army MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky crashed into the side of Colorado's second-highest mountain, Mount Massive, in Leadville, Colorado around 2 PM. while conducting a routine mountain and environmental training. All four onboard were killed in the accident. All were assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. On Friday the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, at Fort Rucker, Alabama released its report on the crash. The report indicated the investigation concluded that “Human Error” was the cause for the crash of the Army MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.  

The investigation determined there were no mechanical failures. However, the MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter did not have adequate engine power for the high altitude landing it was attempting to make at 14,421 feet mean of sea level at Mount Massive Colorado. Further investigation revealed the flight crew did not take into account the helicopter's performance limits for that altitude.  


The Sikorsky MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter has a Service Ceiling under normal conditions 19,1510 ft MSl at (ISA day) (International Standard Atmosphere) which is standard temperature, pressure and density. Its Hovering Ceiling MRP-OGE 95°F at 7,650 feet and 70°F at 9,375 feet. Standard Day 11,125 feet.  

The pilots were identified as Terrance W. Geer, 40, and Robert M. Johnson, 41. Both pilots were instructor pilots. Also killed were Chad A. Tucker, 28, a helicopter mechanic, and Paul R. Jackson, 33. 

The UH-60 Black Hawk is a four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft. Sikorsky submitted the S-70 design for the United States Army's Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) competition in 1972. The Army designated the prototype as the YUH-60A and selected the Black Hawk as the winner of the program in 1976, after a fly-off competition with the Boeing Vertol YUH-61. The UH-60A entered service with the Army in 1979, to replace the UH-1 Iroquois as the Army's tactical transport helicopter.

The UH-60 features a four-blade main and tail rotors and is powered by two GE T700 turbo shaft engines. It has a long, low profile shape to meet the Army's requirement for transporting aboard a C-130 Hercules. It can carry 11 troops with equipment, lift 2,600 lb (1,170 kg) of cargo internally or 9,000 lb (4,050 kg) of cargo (for UH-60L/M) externally by sling. 


The Black Hawk helicopter series can perform a wide array of missions, including the tactical transport of troops, electronic warfare, and aeromedical evacuation. A VIP version known as the VH-60N is used to transport important government officials (e.g., Congress, Executive departments) with the helicopter's call sign of "Marine One" when transporting the President of the United States. In air assault operations it can move a squad of 11 combat troops or reposition a 105 mm M102 howitzer with thirty rounds ammunition, and a four-man crew in a single lift. The Black Hawk is equipped with advanced avionics and electronics for increased survivability and capability, such as the Global Positioning System.

The UH-60 can be equipped with stub wings at top of fuselage to carry fuel tanks or possibly armament. The initial stub wing system is called External Stores Support System (ESSS). It has two pylons on each wing to carry two 230 US gal (870 L) and two 450 US gal (1,700 L) tanks in total. The four fuel tanks and associated lines and valves form the external extended range fuel system (ERFS). The ESSS can also carry 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) of armament such as rockets, missile and gun pods. The ESSS entered service in 1986. However it was found that with four fuel tanks it would obstruct the firing field of the door guns. To alleviate the issue, the external tank system (ETS) with unswept stub wings to carry two fuel tanks was developed.  

The unit cost varies with the version due to the varying specifications, equipment and quantities. For example, the unit cost of the Army's UH-60L Black Hawk is $5.9 million while the unit cost of the Air Force MH-60G Pave Hawk is $10.2 million.

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