Pilot error caused crash that killed French sports stars: Probe

A screenshot from online footage of the crash.
A screenshot from online footage of the crash.PHOTO: YOUTUBE

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) - Pilot error caused a twin helicopter crash in Argentina that killed three French sports stars, five crew members and two Argentine pilots filming a reality TV show in March, investigators said Thursday.

The two helicopters collided on March 9 while filming the French television series Dropped, killing renowned yachtswoman Florence Arthaud, Olympic champion swimmer Camille Muffat, Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine and all seven others on board.

After a lengthy investigation, Argentina's aviation investigations unit, the JIAAC, found in a 50-page report that the pilots failed to realise how close their helicopters were flying that day.

"The triggering factor of the accident was, according to the information obtained during the investigation and its analysis, the pilots' lack of perception of the closeness or the deficit in the separation between their respective aircraft," it said.

"This lack of perception led to the air collision of the aircraft without attempting any evasive or defensive manoeuvres."

Amateur video taken from the ground showed the helicopters flying extremely close, their rotors clipping and both aircraft plummeting.

Dropped, which was to air on French channel TF1 but was immediately cancelled, featured sports stars taken blindfolded into rugged environments and given 72 hours to get to a place where they could charge a cellphone.