Copterline executives at a loss for explanation of crash

  • 2005-08-11
  • By The Baltic Times
TALLINN - Copterline managers were unable to explain why one of their helicopters crashed into the sea on Wednesday after taking off in Tallinn, presumably killing all 14 people on board.

Chief executive Kari Ljungberg told a news conference in Helsinki the company had no clue as to what could have brought down the helicopter, which had been flying at normal altitude on a scheduled flight over the Bay of Tallinn to the Finnish capital, the STT news agency reported.

Ljungberg stressed that the helicopter's two pilots were experienced and well-trained.

He said the crew had in the course of one and a half years systematically trained action in every imaginable emergency using different simulators.

The manager said Copterline's earlier problems with training were solved about a year ago and it has been issued all the necessary permits by the Finnish aviation authority.

Copterline confirmed the information released by Estonian authorities that the weather at the time of the accident was normal for a large helicopter to fly in. The cloud cover was high, and there was no thunderstorm activity.

The Sikorsky S-76 C+ had 6,253 flight hours behind it, compared with such helicopters' average service life of 25 years.

Meanwhile, a pilot boat skipper who saw the helicopter crash said he heard two popping sounds before the craft dived into the sea. Kanal2 television broadcast a telephone interview with Mati Ojase, skipper of a pilot boat, who had witnessed the crash from the Rohuneeme port on the Viimsi peninsula.

Ojase said that at first he heard two loud popping sounds, which he described as particularly strong since they could be heard five kilometers away. Looking at the sea, Ojase said he then saw a helicopter dive into the sea nose first. He saw no smoke or fire.