National Guard orders aviation safety stand down for all its helicopter units

National Guard orders aviation safety stand down for all National Guard helicopter units

The director of the Army National Guard ordered that all of its helicopters be grounded for a safety review after a pair of crashes killed two and injured two more earlier this month, the National Guard said.

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The safety review was launched following crashes involving AH-64D Apache helicopters, according to officials. One of the crashes happened in Utah on Feb. 12, and the other in Mississippi on Feb. 23.

The Feb. 23 crash claimed the lives of Mississippi Army National Guard pilots Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bryan Andrew Zemek and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Derek Joshua Abbott died in the crash in Mississippi, officials said. They died during a training flight, according to CNN.

In the Feb. 12 crash in Utah, two pilots were injured. They both survived.

“We are a combat force with helicopters training or on mission worldwide every day,” Army National Guard Director Lt. Gen. Jon A. Jensen said. “Safety is always at the top of our minds. We will stand down to ensure all of our crews are prepared as well as possible for whatever they’re asked to do.”

The stand down of helicopters went into effect on Monday, the National Guard said.

“You will see senior leadership making safety a priority, as evidenced again by the fact that the National Guard Bureau recognizes hey, we need to take a moment here to stand down, review safety procedures and processes, and make sure we can look each other in the eye and go out there and do our mission safely,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said, according to CNN. “So the Secretary is confident in the service secretaries and chiefs and their leadership in terms of addressing addressing safety concerns.”