Apache helicopter crash causes power outage in Netherlands

Dutch Defense Boeing AH-64 Apache
Boeing AH-64 Apache photographed in Havelte, Groningen. 13 May 2006.. photo: JePe / Wikimedia

An Apache helicopter crashed into an electricity transmission tower and high-voltage cables Monday evening, before making an emergency landing near Zoelmond, Gelderland. Neither of the two crew members onboard were injuries in the incident, nor were there any injuries on the ground.

It left roughly 24 thousand customers without power in the region. 

The accident happened during a night flight training session called "Decisive Thunder 2017," the Dutch Air Force acknowledged. The helicopter was flying near the N320 roadway at marker 10.8 when it struck the utility equipment. An initial call to emergency services came in at 7:19 p.m., but power outages were first reported by energy network Liander ten minutes earlier. 

The Dutch Safety Board had already begun an investigation by 8:23 p.m., the agency said on Twitter.

As part of Decisive Thunder 2017, a week of helicopter exercises were planned in the region of the accident, including low-altitude interceptions and combat tactics, according to a Defense ministry statement released on Nov. 7. Monday marked the first day of the trainings, that were to last through Friday. Nighttime helicopters were expected to fly as low as 300 feet, and daytime flights could touch a minimum altitude of 100 feet.

However, certain exercises could require the helicopters to fly even lower, the broadcaster stated.

Liander first reported that repairs would be completed by 9 p.m., but later modified that to say it was unknown when the power would return to the area.

A similar accident left about 50 thousand customers without power back in 2007 roughly 20 kilometers south of Monday night's incident. The 2007 crash also took place during a Defense ministry training exercise that led to an Apache helicopter flying into high-voltage cables. The pilot in that case was required to perform community service for reckless flying. That power outage caused some one million euros in damage, Omroep Gelderland wrote.

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