Hotspots and Incidents » Disasters, catastrophes
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Mi-8 helicopters crash most due to poor technical servicing

The Russian aviation can not do without the most massive helicopter

The history of the Mi-8 helicopter, the legend of the Russian aviation, counts the largest number of air crashes. PRAVDA.Ru has recently reported about the latest two accidents that happened in the Far East of the country, when two MI-8 choppers disappeared in three days.

Four people died as a result of the crash in the Kamchatka region, no one was killed in the crash that took place in the Khabarovsk region, although three people were hospitalized with serious injuries. The first of the two crashes became the 6th tragedy that happened to the Mi-8 type of helicopters during the current year; up to seven of them crash in Russia annually. The Mi-8 still remains the most popular, albeit the most unalternative helicopter of the Russian aviation.

Flight recorders of the Mi-8 helicopter that crashed in the Kamchatka region on November 27th were found two days ago. Rescuers found three bodies on the site of the tragedy: two crewmembers and a doctor of the Center for Medicine of Catastrophes.

Another Mi-8 helicopter had to perform an emergency landing in the Khabarovsk region in the Far East of Russia. It went off radar screens in the morning of November 29th. Pilots of the An-12 aircraft of the Russian Air Force detected the lights of fires on the site of the chopper's landing on Monday. Another Mi-8 helicopter left for the site of the incident later to take the crewmembers and the passengers away.

Air crashes occur to MI-8 helicopters on a much more frequent basis in comparison with other choppers. As a rule, each air crash results in certain flight restrictions for the helicopters, special committees try to investigate the reasons, experts make their conclusions and eventually withdraw the restrictions.

Specialists explain such a contradiction with the fact that the aviation can not do without the most massive helicopter. Aviation experts, though, set forth another version. Examinations of the crashed helicopters usually say the same: “Piloting mistake,” “Improper technical servicing,” “Violation of operating rules.”

The Mi-8 helicopter, as well as the Kalashnikov gun, is a symbol of success in the Russian defense industry. The chopper has 40 years of history; pilots describe it as an aircraft, which “flies where it has to fly, not where it is just able to fly.” The peculiarity of the aircraft often plays spiteful jokes on pilots. “The Mi-8 helicopter is the most numerous one in the Russian military aviation. They fly a lot more than other helicopters, that is why it is quite normal that they fall on a more frequent basis,” Tatiana Kurovich from the Moscow headquarters of the Mi-helicopter factory said. “One should also take into consideration the conditions, in which the choppers have to work,” she added.

According to Kurovich, the company does not have the complete statistics as far as Mi-8 air crashes are concerned. That is why it is difficult for specialists to distinguish basic reasons of the crashes. No technical malfunctions or drawbacks have been found with recent helicopter crashes. “As a rule, we work with technical occurrences. The helicopters have been flying for 40 years in most extreme conditions, and there were no complaints about the construction of the machine. All crashes occurred as a result of improper technical servicing, piloting mistakes and so on,” Tatiana Kurovich said.

The Mi-8 multi-purpose helicopter was developed at the Moscow helicopter factory named in honor of aircraft engineer Mikhail Mil. The chopper performed its first flight in 1962. Over 12,000 Mi-8 helicopters have been made since 1965, more than 50 modifications of the helicopter have been developed, including governmental and VIP models. More than 40 countries of the world, including NATO members, have the helicopter in their air forces. The aircraft has been used in almost all army conflicts since 1970.

Here is the list of air crashes that happened to Mi-8 helicopters from 1998 to 2004:
 
1998 – 8 crashes 
1999 – 6 crashes
2000 – 1 crash
2001 – 7 crashes
2002 – 5 crashes
2003 – 5 crashes
2004 – 6 crashes

At least 180 people were killed in the crashes with Mi-8 helicopters during seven years, including such VIP persons as deputy Internal Affairs Minister Colonel Mikhail Rudchenko, Lieutenant-General Nikolai Garidov, Krasnoyarsk regional governor Alexander Lebed, and the governor of the Sakhalin region Igor Farkhutdinov.

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