One of the Zambian Air Force’s recently acquired Harbin Z-9 helicopters has crashed, killing one pilot and injuring another.
Zambia’s defence minister Geoffrey Mwamba said the aircraft crashed yesterday morning whilst taking place in Youth Day celebrations. “I can confirm that…we tragically lost a senior officer, Major Misapa Mukupa, who died when a Z-9 helicopter he was co-flying with Lt Kenneth Chilala lost control and crashed,” Mwamba said. The aircraft was landing at Lusaka City Airport at the time.
“Lt Chilala has fortunately been treated with minor wounds and discharged from hospital but the Major [Mukupa] was pronounced dead on arrival at the Maina Soko Military Hospital. The next of kin have been informed about this tragedy and on behalf of President Sata, the Commander-in-Chief, we extend our condolences,” Mwamba added.
He said that an investigation into the crash has been launched as “We don’t want to lose any more brilliant young lives.”
Zambian media allege the Z-9’s crash was caused when a national flag it was carrying came loose and became entangled in the tail rotor, but this has not been confirmed.
Last year the Zambian Air Force took delivery of the first of eight new Harbin Z-9 helicopters from China. Zambian Air Force commander General Erick Chimense in November 2012 said that the ZAF had recently acquired eight new military helicopters, four of which had already been delivered.
Apparently the first four arrived in June 2012. Chimense said that in spite of the delivery, the ZAF is still in need of more aircraft, technicians and other personnel as it is crippled by a lack of spares, aircraft and fling hours.
The Harbin Z-9 is a Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin built under license in China. Zambia and China enjoy close military ties, signing a military cooperation agreement in 1998. In 1999 Zambian received eight K-8 Karakorum jet trainers from the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Cooperation and received another eight in March 2012. In addition, the ZAF received five Y-12 and two MA60 transport aircraft from China in 2006.