Monday, November 2, 2015
AW609 Crash: Clues in Multiple Wreckage Fields?
Various photographs and at least one video of the AW609 crash site offer some key data points on the fatal Oct. 30 accident in northwestern Italy. The imagery appears to show, in a crop field, two collections of wreckage that are near each other but distinctly separate. One set of wreckage is shown near a small embankment on one edge of the field; the other set is shown farther into the field. The images indicate the field near Santhià, about 30 nm southwest of manufacturer AgustaWestland’s production facility in Vergiate, had been cleared before the crash. Crop stubble is visible in them. At least one of the wreckage sites appears to show fire damage. But there is no apparent evidence of a large-scale fire in the crop stubble surrounding either wreckage collection. There also does not appear to be a path of plowed-up earth leading to either wreckage collection. Italy’s national agency for flight safety (the Agenzia Nazionale per la Sicurezza del Volo, or ANSV) is investigating the crash; AgustaWestland said it is cooperating in the probe. The crash killed long-time test pilots Pietro Venanzi and Herb Moran. Last year, Venanzi was honored along with AW colleagues Dan Wells and Paul Edwards with the Society of Experimental Test Pilots' Iven C. Kincheloe Award for their AW609 power-off conversions and autorotation flight tests. Moran was a former U.S. Marine Corps aviator who worked as an H-1 Upgrades test pilot for Bell Helicopter for 11 years before joining AW in late 2011.