Losses and Aviation Safety

Two USMC Aviators killed in AH-1Z Viper helicopter crash

The pilots were flying an AH-1Z Viper as part of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma.

On Mar. 30, 2019 two aviators were killed in a helicopter crash that occurred during a routine training mission March 30 near Yuma, Ariz the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) announced Sunday afternoon.

In a statement appeared on Facebook, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma officials said the pilots were flying an AH-1Z Viper as part of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course. The crash occurred around 8:45 p.m at the air station’s training grounds and its cause is currently under investigation,

The names of the pilots who were killed have not been released pending notification of their families.

The AH-1Z attack helicopter provides rotary wing close air support, anti-armor, armed escort, armed/visual reconnaissance and fire support coordination capabilities under day/night and adverse weather conditions for the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC).

The USMC is replacing the two-bladed AH-1W with the AH-1Z, which features a new, four-bladed composite rotor system, performance-matched transmission, four-bladed tail rotor, upgraded landing gear and a fully integrated glass cockpit. The commonality gained between the AH-1Z and the UH-1Y (approximately 85 percent) is expected to significantly reduce life-cycle costs and the aircraft’s logistical footprint, while increasing the maintainability and deployability. The AH-1Z is equipped with an integrated advanced fire control system and the capacity to support multiple weapons configurations.

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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