Botswana Police Service helicopter crashes


A Botswana Police Service helicopter has crashed while on an anti-poaching operation, injuring the six occupants.

The Botswana Police Service (BPS) in a statement said the aircraft came down in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) on the evening of 30 July. It was on an anti-poaching operation in the area with six police officers on board, including the pilots. The officers survived with various injuries and were taken for medical attention.

The Botswana Police Service said investigations to establish the cause of the accident were ongoing.

Mmegi online reports that only one occupant sustained major injuries while the other five sustained minor injuries.

The crash was the second in two years, with all three people on board dying in the April 2014 crash of an AS350 (now known as the H125) helicopter.

At the beginning of last year Botswana’s Police Service signed a contract for three AS350 B3e Squirrels from Airbus Helicopters, as well as training for pilots and mechanics. The helicopters feature night vision equipment for night operations.

In 2009 the newly established Botswana Police Service Air Support Branch acquired an initial three AS350 B3s and these were upgraded for night operations with a forward-looking infrared camera and modified pilots’ instrument panel and observer’s console that were night vision goggle compatible.

The BPS Air Support Branch had five helicopters in 2009 – three Eurocopter AS350 B3s delivered between 2008 and 2009 and two older Bell helicopters, but the latter two are presently unserviceable.

The first three AS350s were fitted with a Carl Zeiss LEO-II-A5-EP Extended Performance (EP) Airborne Observations Systems (AOS), a Spectrolab SX 16 night sight, rescue hoist, cargo swing and external loud hailer system.