Pilots Had More Than 10,000 Hours Combined Experience
A Schweizer 300C helicopter of the Argentine Coast Guard went
down Tuesday on a post-maintenance test flight at the San Fernando
Naval Base. The aircraft had been recently released from
maintenance and was scheduled to return to its law enforcement,
anti-contraband and Search and Rescue duties in the northern
portion of the country. The highly experienced crew of two did not
survive the accident -- Prefect Marcelo Guillermo Dreher, commander
of the unit, squadron instructor and pilot; and SubPrefect Carlos
Sebastián Murcio, squadron maintenance chief and co-pilot,
were killed impact. Both pilots had well over 5,000 hours of
experience and a combined 19 years of military service.
"Meteorological conditions were optimal... the aircraft was just
coming out of maintenance. It is not easy thinking what could have
happened," said Senior Prefect Pedro Mele, Chief of Aviation
Operations, in an interview with Argentine news media. Judicial
investigators from the San Isidro region have commenced the
accident investigation to determine the cause of the accident.
"From the first 25 flight hours, all aircraft must be subjected to
maintenance activities, and the more flights, the more items that
are inspected," Prefect Mele explained. "We have performed
incalculable inspections, these are very simple aircraft, very
lightweight. This helicopter had more than 2,600 hours flight time
and the pilot was an instructor."
Approximately ten minutes after taking off on a test flight, the
aircraft plummeted into one of the runways at the Naval Base.
Prefect Mele said his attention "was drawn to the fact that
the aircraft crashed on its side and from considerable altitude.
The aircraft was in perfect condition and all the ground tests that
must be done were performed. There was no indication of any
possibility of an accident. We currently have five helicopters of
this type, assigned to the search for swimmers who disappeared
during a competition in the Misiones region."