The new year has not been happy for the US Marines with a helicopter crashing. This crash close on the heels of an earlier crash where two marines were killed is cause for worry. A Sikorsky helicopter of the Marine Corps has crashed during a training mission in Southern California. ABC News has reported that the Marine Ch 53E super stallion helicopter belongs to the third marine wing and crashed at 2:35 p.m. local time on Tuesday killing four marines.

The crash

The naval air facility El Centro has in a Facebook message confirmed the crash and the death of four aircrews.

This is the deadliest crash of the Marine force since a transport aircraft went down in the Mississippi delta killing all 16 marines on board. The death of the marines is an irreparable loss as trained aircrew are difficult to replace. The chopper is the biggest in the American air fleet and is generally considered to be a very sturdy machine. It costs almost 25 million dollars. The aircraft is designed to lift heavy hardware like field guns and heavy vehicles from ship to shore or from one location to another. it is one of the biggest helicopters in the world and rivals Russia's biggest helicopter.


The military has not yet identified the crew members who have died until their next of kin are informed.

This is as per laid down procedures. The crash of the chopper will be investigated by a board of inquiry, but a crash during a routine training exercise is not something that happens every day. One can understand the loss of helicopters and casualties during actual war conditions but to lose a helicopter during peacetime operations with the resultant loss of precious aircrew is not something that can be brushed under the carpet.

This calls for a thorough evaluation and investigation of the cause of the accident so as to pinpoint lacuna in training or maintenance if any. Obviously, there has to be a lacuna in one of these two fields and this will have to be rectified.The Sikorsky is one of the most sturdy machines of the US armed forces and also costs a pile of money.Its crash is not a good advertisement for the training and maintenance schedule being followed by the Marine Corps.


Helicopters by the virtue of having one Rotary wing have limitations as they have no backup and in case there is an engine problem the helicopter drops from the sky like a stone. The helicopter could also go into a tailspin from which it is very difficult to recover. Having flown MI 35 gunship, I can say with confidence that mostly the crash is due to a pilot error. The US Marine Corps would be advised to examine their training schedule