MOSCOW, August 2. /TASS/. A technical failure was the cause for the crash of a Mil Mi-28N helicopter at the Dubrovichi aviation range in the Ryazan Region in central Russia, Air Force Chief, Col.-Gen. Viktor Bondarev said on Sunday.
"Today, during the performance of the training flight by the Berkut aerobatic group, a control system failed aboard a Mi-28 helicopter, triggering an alarm signal about the failure of the second hydraulic system and the voice information "Hydraulic System Failure,’" he said.
The Mi-28 helicopter crashed when the Berkut aerobatic team was performing demonstration flights at the Dubrovichi aviation range in the Ryazan Region. The helicopter went into a flat spin when performing an aerobatic program and made a crash landing.
Eye-witnesses said the helicopter’s tail rotor had failed. As it was performing an aerobatic element, the helicopter started to rotate around its axis and descend. As a result, the helicopter fell onto its belly.
The Mi-28 pilots were struggling to save the aircraft till the very last minute, Bondarev said. "Regrettably, the crew commander died when the helicopter hit the ground. The other pilot has survived. He said the crash had been cause by a technical failure. I have ordered to suspend Mi-28 flights. I am heading a commission that is probing into the accident," he said.
The Russian defence ministry said the exact causes for the crash would be established after the onboard flight recorders’ data were studied. Special teams have started work at the crash site to find and promptly dismantle the helicopter’s flight recorders and transfer them to experts for deciphering.
The ministry said the accident had posed no danger for spectator who watched the air show at the Dubrovichi aviation range. "All the demonstration flights within the Aviamix programme at the Dubrovichi aviation range in the Ryazan Region, where the Mi-28 helicopter made a crash landing were performed in strict compliance with safety requirements," the ministry said. "Aerobatics teams performed their flights at a safe distance from the spectator stands. Any risks for spectators or journalists at such performances are excluded."
A source told TASS from the site all demonstration flight had been suspended after the crash. "Organizers said the show is over," he said.
The surviving pilot managed to leave the helicopter on its own. A preliminary examination revealed brain concussion and compression of neck vertebrae. Specialists from the Vishnevsky Central Military Hospital are on their way to the Ryazan region to decide whether the man can be transported to Moscow for treatment.