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US military investigates training protocols after tragic air mishaps

The military is suspending flights while training and safety protocols are reviewed.
US military investigates training protocols after tragic air mishaps
Posted at 7:44 PM, May 06, 2023

In April, the U.S. Army put a halt to all military flights that were not involved in critical missions. 

The grounding came after 12 soldiers were killed in helicopter crashes in Alaska and Kentucky, all within a one-month span. Both incidents involved training exercises.

In February, two more helicopter crashes happened. One in Alabama, where two servicemembers were killed. The other crash was also in Alaska

The military is suspending flights while training and safety protocols are reviewed. 

"It's obviously really disconcerting whenever any service members are killed, whether it's in combat or, you know, training accidents," said Dan Grazier.

Grazier is a former marine and defense analyst at the nonprofit watchdog group Project on Government Oversight.

He says the tragedies are a reminder of the risks that come with military operations, even in training. 

"Accidents like this tend to happen in clusters, unfortunately. But when that, when that does happen, the services, we usually do a safety standdown like the army did in this case," said Grazier.

According to data from the Naval Safety Command, in 2022, the Navy suffered 17 "Class-A manned aviation" mishaps.

SEE MORE: US Army grounds aviators after 12 soldiers die in recent crashes

That’s an incident that involves at least one death or damages of $2.5 million or more.

The Air Force suffered 18 similar incidents, averaging just over one per 100,000 hours of flight time. 

So, what’s to blame?

"There's a lot of moving parts, there's a lot of people involved and, you know, it really only takes a couple of, you know, small mistakes or, or small defects to add up to something you're catastrophic. Fortunately, that does not happen very often. But when they do, they are always investigated very thoroughly," said Grazier.

In 2020 the National Commission on Military Aviation Safety issued a report pointing to aviation action and trends in the different branches and says the data has been lacking in recent years.

The commission recommended the creation of a joint safety council after reviewing thousands of military aviation mishaps.

The review of military aviation losses from 2013 to 2020 found 224 military service members were killed and 186 aircraft destroyed, costing the military more than $11 billion.

As for the investigation into 2023 aviation mishaps, Grazier says there is much to review.

"They're gonna review a lot of things; they're gonna get everybody's, everybody back on the same page, and hopefully it'll be a while before we see something like this again," said Grazier. 

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