Israeli Air Force Grounds Fleet After Fatal Helicopter Crash Off Haifa Coast
Israeli Air Force commander Gen. Amikam Norkin grounded the military’s fleet of Eurocopter AS565 Panther helicopters Tuesday, pending an investigation, after two pilots were killed when their helicopter crashed off the coast of Haifa Monday night. The pilots were named as Lt. Col. Erez Sachyani and Maj. Chen Fogel. The aircraft, locally designated Atalef, carried a crew of three. Search-and-rescue teams pulled the pilots from the water and tried, unsuccessfully, to resuscitate them. A patrol officer was rescued with moderate injuries and taken to Haifa’s Rambam Health Care Campus, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said. The hospital said he was in stable condition. The Airborne Combat Rescue and Evacuation Unit 669, the navy’s Flotilla 13 commando unit and the navy’s YALTAM scuba unit, participated in the recovery of the crew. The helicopter, acquired in 1996, is primarily used for reconnaissance of enemy coasts, finding maritime targets at sea and search and rescue missions. At the time of the crash, it was taking part in a training exercise.