2015 Villa Castelli mid-air collision
Both helicopters were Eurocopter AS350B3 Écureuils, similar to this one.
|Mid-air collision summary|
|Date||9 March 2015|
Villa Castelli, La Rioja Province, Argentina |
29°01′05″S 68°13′37″W / 29.01806°S 68.22694°WCoordinates: 29°01′05″S 68°13′37″W / 29.01806°S 68.22694°W
|Total fatalities||10 (all)|
|Type||Eurocopter AS350B3 Écureuil|
|Type||Eurocopter AS350B3 Écureuil|
The aircraft involved were both Eurocopter AS350B3 Écureuils, one was registered LQ-CGK, the other LQ-FJQ. LQ-CGK was manufactured in 2010 and was owned by the provincial government of La Rioja. LQ-FJQ was manufactured in 2012 and was owned by the provincial government of Santiago del Estero.
An episode of the television programme Dropped was being filmed for the French channel TF1. The show takes celebrities to a hostile environment by helicopter and films their efforts to survive. The cast included Olympic-medal winning or internationally competitive athletes, including French athletes Florence Arthaud, Alain Bernard, Philippe Candeloro, Jeannie Longo, Camille Muffat, Alexis Vastine, Sylvain Wiltord and Swiss athlete Anne-Flore Marxer. Filming began in late February 2015 in Ushuaia, in the far south of Argentina, before moving to the province of La Rioja, about 1,170 kilometres (730 mi) from the capital, Buenos Aires. At the time of the accident, Wiltord had already been eliminated from the competition and was back in Paris.
Each helicopter was carrying four passengers in addition to the pilot. Seconds after take-off, the two helicopters were involved in a mid-air collision at a height of about 100 metres (330 ft) above the ground. The accident occurred at about 17:15 local time (20:15 UTC). A video of the accident appears to show that the lower of the two helicopters was climbing at a rate faster than the other one, colliding with it from below.
All ten people on board the two aircraft were killed in the incident, including French athletes Florence Arthaud, Camille Muffat and Alexis Vastine. The others killed were the two Argentinian pilots, and five French nationals who were members of the production team, Adventure Line Productions. Weather conditions at the time were described as "good." The other contestants were reported to have been waiting on the ground nearby when the accident occurred.
- François Hollande, President of France, said, "The sudden death of our fellow French nationals is a cause of immense sadness."
- Sylvain Wiltord tweeted, "I'm sad for my friends, I'm trembling, I'm horrified, I have no words, I don't want to say anything."
- TF1 issued a statement saying, "All TF1 teams come together in this terrible time with the pain of the families and relatives of the victims."
The Junta de Investigaciones de Accidentes de Aviación Civil (JIAAC) is responsible for investigating civil aviation accidents in Argentina. It reported on its Facebook page that it had opened an investigation. The French air crash investigation agency Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile is assisting the JIAAC in the investigation. French prosecutors have also started an investigation. The reconstruction of both flight paths was done with iwi (www.iwi.eu) method based on witness video information.
Julio Martínez, deputy for the Radical Civic Union, announced that LQ-CGK was an official helicopter of La Rioja province, only meant to be used for medical emergencies. Governor Luis Beder Herrera confirmed this statement and stated that the helicopter had been "lent" to a tourism company. Martínez requested to be informed of whether there was a contract, who was paid, and who authorized the use of the helicopter for other purposes than those assigned by law.
- "Choque de helicópteros en Argentina: 10 fallecidos" [Helicopter Crash in Argentina: 10 deaths]. Readtiger (in Spanish). 9 March 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
- "[INFO]" (in Spanish). JIAAC. 9 March 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
- "Eurocopter AS350B3 Ecureuil c/n 7041". Helis.com. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
- "Eurocopter AS350B3 Ecureuil c/n 7574". Helis.com. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
- "Three French sports stars die in Argentina helicopter crash". BBC News Online. 9 March 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
- "French star athletes, TV crew among 10 dead in Argentina twin helicopter crash". RT News. RT. 10 March 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
- "French star athletes, TV crew among 10 dead in Argentina twin helicopter crash". RT. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
- "Wiltord faisait partie de cette équipe mais avait été éliminé" [Wiltord was part of the team but had been eliminated]. Europe 1 (in French). Retrieved 10 March 2015.
- "Ten dead in double helicopter crash in Argentina". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
- Eliana Raszewski; Mark John (10 March 2015). "French sports stars killed in Argentina helicopter crash". Reuters. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
- "Fatale helikoptercrash gefilmd" [Fatal helicopter crash was filmed]. De Telegraaf (in Dutch). Retrieved 10 March 2015.
- "Wiltord tweet". Sylvain Wiltord Twitter profile (in French). 10 March 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
- "Drame de "Dropped". Alain Bernard : "Camille était heureuse d'être là"" ["Dropped" Tragedy. Alain Bernard: "Camille was happy to be there"] (in French). Le Parisien. 11 March 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
- "Tragedia de La Rioja: piden explicaciones por el uso del helicóptero estatal" [Tragedy at La Rioja: there is a request for explanations for use of the state helicopter]. La Razón (in Spanish). 10 March 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
- Junta de Investigación de Accidentes de Aviación Civil (Spanish)
- "Accident in Argentina, between two Airbus Helicopters AS 350’s on Monday 9 March 2015" (Archive) Bureau d'enquêtes et d'analyses pour la sécurité de l'aviation civile
- Helicopters crash, killing stars of French reality TV show
- France mourns sports stars killed in Argentina helicopter crash
- Top French athletes among 10 dead after 2 helicopters collide in Argentina
- Villa Castelli helicopter crash on YouTube