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July 25, 2012

Helicopter Crash in French Alps Kills 6 Eurocopter Employees

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Eurocopter AS532 Cougar operated by the Bulgarian Army. (Photo by Martin777 via wikipedia)

A military helicopter performing a pre-delivery test flight crashed in the French Alps on Wednesday, killing six Eurocopter employees, Reuters reported.

The Eurocopter AS532 AL Cougar, built for the Albanian Air Force, had taken off from the manufacturer’s headquarters in Marseille along the Mediterranean coast before plunging into Verdon Gorge near the village of La-Palud-sur-Verdon, about 60 miles to the northeast.

The river gorge is up to 2,300 ft (700 m) deep in some places, making recovery efforts difficult, authorities said.

One hiker on the ground who witnessed the crash was also slightly injured.

Witnesses said the helicopter was flying low over the area may have hit a powerline, a theory authorities were investigating.

The AS532 Cougar is the military variant of the civilian Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma. Operated by dozens of military forces around the world, the AS532 can transport up to 29 troops and 2 pilots.

Eurocopter is a subsidiary of the multinational aerospace conglomerate EADS, which also owns the airplane builder Airbus.



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