Two Royal Malaysian Navy helicopters collide during Navy Day rehearsal, 10 killed

Two Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) helicopter squadron commanding officers were killed this morning, along with eight other crew members when the two helicopters they were in, collided in mid-air during a flypast rehearsal for the RMN’s 90th anniversary celebrations this Saturday.

The incident happened at 9.32am, seconds after the main formation of eight helicopters split up in front of the crowd line and went on their assigned, individual headings.

The two helicopters involved, a Leonardo AW-139 (tail number M503-3) and an Airbus H125M Fennec (tail number M502-6) were seen flying close together for the rejoin after the break. Second later, both helicopters fell from the sky. It is believed that the AW-139’s main rotors struck the Fennec’s tail rotors.

Both helicopters had taken off from Sitiawan in Perak for the flypast rehearsal at 9.03am.

The AW-139 from 503 Squadron – designated HOM for Helikopter Operasi Maritim (Maritime Operations Helicopter) – carried a crew of seven, while the Fennec, from 502 Squadron, had a crew complement of three.

503 Squadron’s fleet of three AW-139 HOMs now stands at two, with the hull loss of M503-3. This particular airframe was the newest addition to the fleet, having been delivered in October 2022. It was flown directly from its base of operations in Sabah, to take part in the flypast.

It is understood that both helicopters were piloted by their respective squadron commanding officers.

The AW-139 impacted near the steps of the RMN Stadium in Lumut, while the wreckage of the Fennec fell in the Navy’s Sports Complex.

The RMN, in a media statement, confirmed the incident and said an accident investigation board would be established. It also urged members of the public not to share video clips of the incident, out of respect for the families of those killed in the tragedy.