The Straits Times
Published on Sep 03, 2012

Pilot error blamed in Brunei helicopter crash


BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (AFP) - The July crash of a Brunei air force helicopter that killed 12 military personnel occurred because the pilot was flying at an "unauthorised low level", the defence ministry has announced.

The Bell 212 aircraft crashed in the tiny oil-rich sultanate while returning from a jungle training exercise on July 20. The pilot banked at a 45-degree angle and struck the branches of a large tree causing it to crash, according to investigation findings released by the ministry on Saturday, which blamed pilot error.

The military said it found no evidence of mechanical problems, adding this was verified by three independent investigation teams from the United States and Canada, including the helicopter's manufacturer Bell.

It said weather conditions on that day were also recorded as fine. The crash, whose victims included six cadets, was the most deadly single accident in the armed forces' 51-year history.