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Europe' Smallest Countries: - THE VATICAN

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Author Topic: Europe' Smallest Countries: - THE VATICAN  (Read 4289 times)
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« Reply #75 on: November 13, 2008, 08:07:26 am »

                                                      Pope copter grounded

                                     Similar craft crashed near Strasbourg last month

 (ANSA) -
Vatican City,
November 12 - 2008

Pope Benedict XVI's helicopter has been grounded on a precautionary basis after eight Italian troops were killed when a similar model crashed in France last month. Airforce officials said Wednesday that
a preliminary investigation into October's crash near Strasbourg showed that one of the blades on the principal rotor of the HH-3F Agusta Bell military helicopter may have broken.

All 35 of the airforce's HH-3F helicopters were grounded following the incident, but the precautionary measure was also applied to SH-3D aircraft, the one used by the pope, since the two models share rotors with the same characteristics.

Benedict is not a frequent flyer in his helicopter, which is supplied by the airforce, although he uses it in the summer months during transfers between the Vatican and his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome.

Airforce officials stressed Wednesday that they were waiting for the definitive results of the investigation into the Strasbourg crash.

They also said that of the five serious accidents involving HH-3F helicopters since they were brought into operation in 1977, this would be the ''first and only one that could be ascribed to a technical factor''.

In the other four accidents, either human error or bad weather were cited as causes.

The Strasbourg accident happened when the military helicopter was travelling from Dijon to Florennes in Belgium on October 23 to take part in a multinational training exercise. It crashed in isolated countryside and burst into flames, killing everyone on board.
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