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Two Royal Malaysian Navy helicopters collide mid-air

A file image of a Royal Malaysian Navy AW139 helicopter landing at Lumut. One of the airframes was involved in a 23 April 2024 accident that killed 10 personnel. (Royal Malaysian Navy)

Ten personnel are dead after two Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) helicopters collided during a rehearsal for the service's 90th anniversary parade, the service disclosed in a media statement on 23 April.

All personnel are from the two helicopters involved, namely a Leonardo AW139 medium-lift rotorcraft and an AS 555SN Fennec airframe, the statement added.

The service has since confirmed to Janes that the AW139 bears the serial number M503-3 while the Fennec was registered with the serial number M502-5.

The aircraft collided at 0932 h local time while they were flying over the RMN's Lumut naval base.

A video of the mid-air collision that began circulating on instant messaging apps shortly after the accident indicates that the Fennec's main rotor clipped the AW139 on the latter's port side while both aircraft were making a right turn during a fly-past segment of the rehearsal.

As a result of the collision, both aircraft went into tailspins before crashing into the sports complex at the Lumut naval base. Seven personnel were onboard the AW139, while the remaining were on the Fennec helicopter, the RMN has confirmed.

β€œThe RMN will establish an investigation committee to identify the causes of the incident,” the service added.

The RMN selected the Leonardo AW139 medium helicopter for its Maritime Operations Helicopter requirement and three units were acquired under the programme in 2020. The first airframe was delivered in September 2022 and all three helicopters have since been inducted into the service's 503 Squadron in Kota Kinabalu.

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