ZURICH, Sept 29 The Swiss air force resumed
flights with Super Puma helicopters on Thursday after initial
checks of a deadly crash in the Alps turned up no evidence that
a "systematic fault" led to the mishap, military officials said.
Two pilots died when the Swiss military helicopter crashed
just after takeoff on Wednesday, prompting the air force to
ground its fleet of the Airbus Super Pumas while it
investigated what caused the accident.
Military officials said the downed aircraft touched a power
line before the crash but have said the exact circumstances of
the mishap were still being examined.
"The accident investigation has so far found no indication
of a technical cause or systematic fault with the Super Puma
fleet," staff officer Pierre de Goumoens told a news conference
in Bern, adding air force leaders had decided to end the
temporary grounding on Thursday morning.
Another crew member was injured when the helicopter went
down at the Gotthard Pass after dropping off French and Swiss
personnel taking part in an international inspection mission.
The European Aviation Safety Authority grounded two types of
Super Puma helicopters for commercial use in June following the
discovery of metal fatigue in the gearbox of an H225 model that
crashed in Norway in late April, killing 13.
Following a series of incidents in the North Sea, analysts
and industry executives say questions have been growing over the
future of at least the civil version of the Super Puma
helicopter, a workhorse of the offshore oil industry.
Airbus Helicopters has said it has no plans to scrap the
Wednesday's incident was the latest in a series of Swiss
military crashes. A Swiss Air Force F/A 18 fighter jet slammed
into a mountainside this month, killing the pilot.
That crash was the third by a Swiss F/A 18 in the past three
years. A Swiss F-5E air demonstration fighter jet collided with
another plane and crashed into a pond in the northern
Netherlands ahead of an air show in June.
(Reporting by Michael Shields)