Ten die as helicopters collide in Malaysian air display rehearsal

Ten people have died when a pair of helicopters collided during a rehearsal for an air display in Malaysia.

A mixed-type formation of seven helicopters was practicing a bomb burst manoeuvre over Lumut Naval Base when two collided: an AW139 (s/n M505-3) from Skn 503 and an AS555SN Fennec (s/n M502-6) from Skn 502. The accident occured at 9:32 local time on the 23rd April 2024.

The AW139, which had seven people on board, crashed on a running track. The Fennec, which had three people on board, came down in a swimming pool. Both locations were within the confines of the naval base. All ten individuals were pronounced dead at the scene. It appears there were no casualties on the ground.

The aircraft had been taking part in the third rehearsal session for the Royal Malaysian Navy’s 90th anniversary celebrations. The first two rehearsals “went smoothly with no incidents”, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin said. The air display itself was due to be held on Saturday 27th April, but will likely be postponed in the wake of the accident.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, said: “The nation mourns the heart-wrenching and soul-wrenching tragedy. Condolences to all the families of the victims and prayers for strength to face this calamity.”

The Royal Malaysian Navy said that a committee would be set up to determine the cause of the accident.