British Army Apache Makes Emergency Landings in the UK; Italian Firefighters AB-206 Crash Lands in Italy

The British Army Apache (left) and the Agusta-Bell 206 of the National Fire Corps. (right). (Image credit: British Army and via FB)

The incidents involved an Apache AH1 and an AB-206 Jet Ranger III.

A couple of incidents, involving helicopters, occurred in the U.K. and in Italy in the last few days: a British Army Apache AH Mk.1 performed a precautionary landing while a Vigili del Fuoco (Italian National Fire Corps) AB-206B Jet Ranger III performed and heavy landing/emergency landing.

The WAH-64D, British version of the US AH-64 attack helicopter,  was performing a routine training flight over Lincolnshire on February 8, 2020 when, due to a mechanical issue, the crew decided to make a precautionary landing in a field, before calling in for assistance. The helicopter belongs to the 3rd Regiment Army Air Corps, the British Army’s deep strike Attack Helicopter Battlegroup.

The incident was reported with regular updates on Twitter by the Regiment’s Commanding Officer. According to his tweets, the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (REME) were called in to diagnose the problem and verify if it could be fixed in place. The inspections had to be temporarily halted because of Storm Ciara, the extratropical cyclone that is moving over Europe causing significant disruption and, sadly, claiming some victims in the process.

The helicopter was secured and tethered to the ground and didn’t suffer any additional damage, other than having its wheels stuck in mud. For safety reasons, it was decided to move the helicopter by road and, after being stripped down of its main rotor and its payloads (which included an auxiliary fuel tank, a pod for 2.75-inch CRV7 rockets and two M299 Hellfire missile launchers), the Apache was moved out of the mud and loaded on a flattop trailer in the morning of February 13.

Even though it belongs to the National Fire Corps, the Jet Ranger involved in the incident in Italy is attached to the Italian Air Force’s 72nd Wing, which is the unit devolved to the training of all helicopter pilots of the Italian Armed Forces and Law Enforcement agencies. The AB-206, Italian license-built version of the Bell 206, was performing a training flight from its homebase at Frosinone when the pilots, an instructor of the ItAF and a Fire Corps’ trainee pilot, had to make an emergency landing in a field.

The landing skids were crushed following the impact, leaving the Jet Ranger’s belly leaning on the ground, and the forces to which the main rotor’s blades were subject caused a tail boom strike. Luckily, the pilots escaped unscathed but were taken to the hospital as a precaution. According to some local news outlets, the helicopter lost its engine power before the landing so, if that’s correct, what we can see in the photos could be the result of a successfully executed autorotation, an emergency procedure used to land an unpowered helicopter by exploiting the airflow passing through the rotor to perform a controlled descent for an emergency landing.

About Stefano D'Urso
Stefano D'Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he's also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.