Two Air Force pilots killed in helicopter crash, third oficer injured
IAF pilots Lt. Col Erez Sachyani and Major Chel Fogel were killed when their helicopter crashed Tuesday night off the coast of Haifa. A naval patrol officer aboard the routine training flight was rescued with moderate injuries. Lt. Col. Sachyani, 38, was deputy commander of the Air Force base at Ramat David. He was married with three children. Maj. Fogel, 27, was a helicopter pilot. Pending an investigation, the military spokesman ruled out hostile action as the cause of the disaster in favor of an accident due to malfunction. Witnesses reported that the chopper burst into flames before it hit the water near the coast. The Eurocopter AS565 known as “Atalef” (Hebrew for “bat”) is used primarily for sea landings on Israeli Navy missile ships, specifically Sa’ar-5 class models. It has been in service for 25 years and was due to be replaced in two years. Air Force chief Amikam Norkin grounded the entire Atalef fleet, halted all training flights and appointed an investigation team.