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Army Orders Stand-Down For All Non-Critical Helicopter Units After Series Of Fatal Crashes

The U.S. Army grounded all helicopter pilots who aren’t on critical missions until they complete mandatory safety training on Friday following the latest deadly crash the day before, according to Army Times.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville also ordered a department-wide stand down and mandatory training for helicopter units after two Apache helicopters from the 11th Airborne Division based at Fort Wainwright crashed during a training exercise Thursday evening, killing three, Army Times reported. Nine soldiers died due to a Black Hawk collision near Kentucky’s Fort Campbell in late March, also during a training flight, in one of the most serious Army helicopter accidents in recent history.

McConville affirmed that safety is the Army’s “top priority, and this stand down is an important step to make certain we are doing everything possible to prevent accidents and protect our personnel,” according to Army Times.

The Army said there was no pattern connecting the two incidents, according to Army Times. Investigators are still in the process of determining a cause of the March accident, while a preliminary report showed that the aircraft crashed in mid-air before plummeting toward the ground.

Investigators for the latest mishap are expected to arrive at the crash site Saturday for an initial probe, The Associated Press reported.

The last time the Army ordered a stand-down of this scale was in 2015, when three deadly helicopter accidents occurred within ten days, Army Times reported.

Helicopter units will be required to complete a 24-hour course that “will focus on safety and training protocols to ensure our pilots and crews have the knowledge, training and awareness to safely complete their assigned mission” before returning to flight, McConville said, according to Army Times.

Training topics will include flight planning, risk assessment, maintenance and aircrew training, as well as coverage of safety statistics and trends, the outlet reported, citing an Army official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the stand-down.

An installation’s commanding generals will lead the training and involve junior soldiers to “inform aviation unit leaders on unit-specific actions” that could potentially improve safety practices, the official said.

Active duty units have until May 5 to complete the stand-down and training, while National Guard and Army Reserve aviators must meet the requirement by May 31, the official added. Commanders can return their troops to flight status once they have reported their units fulfilled the stand-down and training.

While troops engaged in critical missions may still fly, they must complete the training, Army Times reported.

The Army did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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