The title of this post says it all. Most of the Italian readers of this blog will remember the fatal crash on an Italian HH-3F of the 84° CSAR (Centro SAR, SAR Center) in France on Oct. 23, 2008, causing the loss of 8 POB (People On Board). For more background information I suggest reading the following articles: An ItAF HH-3F crashes in France, Mammaiut: all the ItAF HH-3F grounded and HH-3F crash caused by the fracture of a main rotor’s blade. The inquiry following the crash hypothesizes that the helicopter lose a blade as a consequence of two factors: the first one, bad maintenance performed by Agusta; the second one, could be an incorrect translation of the aircraft manual. In fact, the crew was signalled by a cockpit light that the blade pressure had decreased but, after landing in Dijon for further checks, (perhaps) they decided to proceed to Florennes because the manuals contained a translation error that induced them to follow an incorrect procedure to solve the problem.
I don’t know how this (leaked?) video was obtained. I’m not even sure it will remain online for a long time. The Belgian user who uploaded should be careful since I’m pretty sure the footage was not meant to be publicly disclosed, but maybe he got all the permissions required. Anyway at the following address:
you can see an impressive near miss recorded by an Italian F-16. Radio comms can be heard as well.
Here’s just a screenshot:
Aircraft involved are two ItAF F-16s of the 37° Stormo, based in Trapani (radio callsign “Brandy”). Date of the near miss is Dec 13, 2006. The aircraft are apparently returning to their homebase after some kind of exercise; they are in contact with “Cyrano” (a French E-3 AWACS) that clears them to climb to FL360 for RTB. Then, the two fighters are handed over to Rome Military radar that tries to identify the mission but can’t estrablish the radar contact with it. The two aircraft continue climbing to the previously cleared level and level off at FL360 when the wingman spots something that is coming from the opposite direction, same level, between the two F-16 (that are most probably flying a loose formation). At time 03:30 you can see the contrails of the commercial jet appearing on the left side. The leader of Brandy 41 sees the incoming liner at the very last moment and performs an escape manoeuvre. The cause of the near miss is obviously not clear: for sure the two aircraft are given from Cyrano a clearance to climb to 36.000 feet. The E-3 has coordinated the climb and they are under radar control. They contact Rome Military telling the controller “….climbing 360…” and they repeat the information as they give their position and altitude (“360, 100 NM from RONAB”) shortly before the close encouter, when they are requested to check the C mode. Something unclear occurred (I think on radar controller side….) but a fine weather, a watchful wingman and a certain amout of luck contributed to the happy ending.
Last week, Giovanni Maduli went to Decimomannu to report about the training activities performed by the aircraft deployed in Sardinia. Interestingly, he not only took some pictures of the temporary based Tornados of the 155° Gruppo and F-16s of the 37° Stormo, but he also caught some interesting visitors, as the Austrian C-130K.
At the time of writing, the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour, is currently cruising towards Haiti in order to assist the rescue efforts in Haiti. The ship of the Marina Militare (Italian Navy) is carrying a field hospital, medical equipments, food supply, cranes, bulldozers, 4 SH-3Ds and 2 EH-101s helicopters for MEDEVAC (MEDdical Evacuation) missions, and special teams of the Carabinieri (Italian Military Police), the Esercito Italiano (Italian Army) and of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF). Before reaching the Caribbean island, the Cavour will make a stop in Brazil, to embark Brazilian military and rescue personnel destined to Haiti. “White Crane” is the first operative mission since the ship was commissioned and since its deployment will cost Italy a lot (the vessel costs some 100.000 – 200.000 Euro each day), many argued the ship was the most appropriate asset to support the relief operations. First of all, it represents a sign of Italy’s willingness to provide help to a poor country devastetad by a earthquake stronger than the one that hit Abruzzo in April 2009; second, it will showcase Italy’s latest hi-tech defense jewel at work. The Cavour will not be the only aircraft carrier supporting the multi-national rescue force: the USS Carl Vinson, a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was sent towards Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake to serve as a landing pad for a fleet of helicopters carrying emergency teams, survivors and victims. The supercarrier, carrying 19 helicopters (CH-53 and SH-60s) is outfitted with water-purifying machinery (capable of 400.000 gallons of driking water each day), dozens of hospital beds, three operating rooms and a giant flight deck that can accommodate many “external” helicopters.