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What might have Caused Iran’s President’s Helicopter Crash

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What might have Caused Iran's President's Helicopter Crash

(CTN News) – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and other top officials were murdered in a helicopter crash on Sunday, the latest high-profile fatality in recent years.

Most people recall the four-year-old helicopter tragedy in California that killed retired NBA star Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, and seven others. However, in 2018, Thai businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who owned Leicester City soccer club, died in a helicopter crash along with four others. Troy Gentry, a member of the country music group Montgomery Gentry, died in a collision in New Jersey last year.

An examination into the disaster that killed Bryant and passengers onboard a Sikorsky S-76B revealed that the pilot became disoriented when the chopper flew into a cloud bank, thinking he was rising while he was plunging into a mountainside.

The Gentry incident was attributed to pilot error, whereas a malfunction of the rear rotor system on the Leonardo AW169 helicopter caused the Vichai crash.

It is impossible to say for certain what caused the crash in Iran on Sunday, which killed Raisi, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and others. However, one of the following factors may have played a role.

According to the Associated Press, the chopper crashed in a “foggy, mountainous region of the country’s northwest.”

Could bad weather have been a factor in the fatal crash?

Poor weather is a major cause of helicopter (or rotor aircraft) crashes. An analysis presented at a 2021 event by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics found that weather played a role in 28% of fatal helicopter crashes.

“The majority of cases involved wind, but fatalities were unusual. According to the analysis description, most fatal weather-related accidents were caused by poor visibility due to a combination of low light and clouds.

It points out that helicopters “typically operate at lower altitudes than fixed-wing aircraft and can take off and land away from airports.” Thus, helicopter pilots have had less access to weather information due to connectivity concerns or a lack of weather coverage in those places and at those altitudes.”

In February, five Marines died when their CH-53E Super Stallion, the largest helicopter deployed by the US military, crashed into mountains near San Diego during a storm.

While comparing the safety records of different means of transportation is challenging, an analysis undertaken by the travel site The Points Guy in 2019 reveals that airline flights are significantly safer than “non-scheduled helicopter flights.”

However, helicopter rides are rated significantly higher in terms of safety than driving or riding in a vehicle or SUV or even “general aviation,” which includes flights in private planes.

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Helicopters are more dangerous than planes.

According to John Goglia, a former member of the National Transportation Safety Board, helicopters demand a high level of focus, while airplanes are more tolerant of pilot distractions due to automation.”And so sometimes people will lose their focus, and [then] the consequences are severe.”

The helicopter that crashed in Iran was a Bell 212, a twin-engine civilian version of the “Huey” UH-1, which was widely used during the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s.

According to the Aviation Safety Network’s database, the Bell 212 and its military equivalents have had approximately 30 incidents since 2017, eight of which resulted in fatalities.

According to The National, a state-run English-language daily in the UAE, the Bell 212 in Iran was likely purchased in the 1970s under the Shah’s reign, before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

According to the same publication, once the Shah was deposed, Iran continued to utilize numerous US-made aircraft “but faced difficulty obtaining spare parts due to American sanctions.”

In March, Iran’s semiofficial Mehr News Agency reported that Javad Mashayekh, deputy of the scientific department of knowledge-based economy development, stated that the country had achieved complete self-sufficiency in aviation replacement parts supply. It made no particular reference to helicopter parts.

According to Mehr News Agency, Mashayekh stated that Iran was formerly “highly dependent” on foreign sources for such parts and that US sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program “caused a challenge in this regard.”

According to a remark by journalist Kourosh Ziabari in the Gulf International Forum, Iran’s aviation industry has suffered from neglect, underinvestment, and sanctions, resulting in frequent accidents and falling safety standards.

The Iranian president’s helicopter was an old aircraft

There is no obvious evidence of sabotage in the instance of the Iranian helicopter crash, but employing an aviation “accident” to assassinate a national leader or political competitor has previously been suspected.

Last August, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of Russia’s Wagner mercenary squad, who led an abortive coup against the Kremlin, was killed when his private jet crashed in a field outside Moscow. Many believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the plane’s destruction.

Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, a Hutu, was killed in April 1994 when his plane was shot down by a missile, triggering the Rwandan genocide. An inquiry did not result in charges against the alleged offenders.

In 1988, Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq was killed when his C-130 transport plane crashed shortly after takeoff from an airstrip in the eastern city of Bahawalpur. Witnesses reported seeing the plane fly erratically before nosediving.

An official Pakistani report determined that the disaster might have been caused by a criminal act or sabotage, excluding technical reasons.

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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