Lumut Crash: Pilots situational awareness needs to be on maximum alert during breakout formation

"The formation appeared to break at the time of the accident."

24 Apr 2024 07:30am
The condition of the HOM Aircraft (M503-3) carrying seven crew members which crashed at the RMN Lumut Stadium stairs.
The condition of the HOM Aircraft (M503-3) carrying seven crew members which crashed at the RMN Lumut Stadium stairs.

SHAH ALAM – Yesterday, what began as an ordinary morning quickly turned sombre as tragedy struck during what should have been routine training exercises for our Malaysian heroes.

Dring a rehearsal session in conjunction with the 90th Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) Day Parade at the RMN Lumut Base, two helicopters tragically collided and crashed, claiming the lives of 10 crews.

What started as a day of commemoration swiftly transformed into a scene of devastation, leaving behind a profound sense of loss and mourning within the country.

A veteran air crash investigator who wished to remain anonymous told Sinar Daily that based on the viral video of the tragedy which had circulated on social media, the formation appeared to break the time of the accident.

“All flights participating in formation must undergo a comprehensive pre-flight briefing covering coordination, timing, and the formation itself. Based on the footage, the formation appeared to be breaking up at the time of the accident.

“This is concerning, especially when multiple aircraft are involved, particularly of different types and performance capabilities. During the breakup to the left and right, pilots must maintain maximum situational awareness,” he said.

The expert highlighted that the two helicopters involved in the fatal accident on the right were of different performance characteristics.

“It appears that there was no assigned altitude to maintain during the right turn.

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“Maintaining visual contact during a turn becomes challenging when both aircraft are at different altitudes or have blind spots due to their design.

"It is sad news that an accident happened on a fine morning,” the expert said, somberly.

The aviation expert also noted that several factors must be looked into to avoid such incident from recurring.

“This includes the pre-flight briefing, the applicability of the formation considering the involvement of different aircraft types, maintaining basic lookout and situational awareness and ensuring lateral and height separation throughout the flight.

Perak Police Chief Datuk Seri Mohd Yusri Hassan Basri yesterday revealed that the victims, consisting of seven men and three women, were members of the RMN Lumut and Kota Kinabalu Bases.

The incident occurred during a training session in conjunction with the 90th RMN Day Parade at the RMN Lumut Base, involving the HOM (M503-3) aircraft and the Fennec aircraft.

Among the seven crew members aboard the HOM AW139 Aircraft were Commander Muhammad Firdaus Ramli, Lieutenant Commander Mohammad Amirulfaris Mohamad Marzukhi, Lieutenant Commander Wan Rezaudeen Kamal Wan Zainal Abidin, Lieutenant Commander Muhammad Faisol Tamadun, Noorfarahimi Mohd Saedy, Noor Rahiza Anuar, and Joanna Felicia anak Rohna.

The other three crew members aboard the Fennec Aircraft were identified as Commander Muhamad Amir Mohamad, Lieutenant T Sivasutan, and Mohd Shahrizan Mohd Termizi.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin had also announced the cancellation of all events in conjunction with the 90th Anniversary of the RMN celebration parade scheduled to start this Saturday.

It would be replaced with tahlil and doa selamat.