EC725 Caracal crashed during Commandos drop-off exercise in Brazil

On Tuesday, August 8, 2023, a nation was rocked by a tragedy that reverberated far beyond the realms of naval aviation. A Eurocopter EC725 Caracal multi-role helicopter, part of Marinha do Brasil’s fleet, tragically crashed during a commando drop-off exercise in the heartland of the country.  

EC725 Caracal crashed during Commandos drop-off exercise in Brazil
Photo credit: Brazilian Mod

The calamity claimed the lives of two Brazilian soldiers and left nine others with varying degrees of injuries, out of a total of fourteen personnel on board the twin turbine. The helicopter in question was locally manufactured by Helibras, the South American arm of the global giant, Airbus. 

Part of the 2º Esquadrão de Helicópteros de Emprego Geral

The ill-fated helicopter was part of the 2º Esquadrão de Helicópteros de Emprego Geral, which operates a portion of the EC725 Caracal fleet of Marinha do Brasil. These helicopters are locally referred to as UH-15A Super Cougar for assault transport and search and rescue missions, and AH-15A Super Cougar for anti-submarine and anti-ship missions.  

The unfortunate aircraft was a UH-15A. It’s worth noting that there are also AH-15B and UH-15B models. They are essentially slightly more modern Airbus Helicopters H225M, also assembled in Brazil. These aircraft were previously considered among the safest in the Brazilian armed forces. 

The specific of the crash

As for the specifics of the crash, it occurred on that fateful Tuesday afternoon, around 2 p.m. local time. The Eurocopter UH-15A Super Cougar was carrying out a series of special forces drop-off exercises and was hovering in preparation to land its occupants by rope when it stalled for reasons yet to be determined.  

The helicopter impacted the ground and subsequently caught fire. Two crew members, including one of the pilots, were killed, while nine other Brazilian soldiers were injured. Two of the injured were airlifted to the military hospital in the capital, Brasilia, approximately 80 kilometers from the crash site.  

Airbus sells H225M Caracal helicopters in the Middle East
Photo credit: Airbus

These two soldiers are battling multiple fractures, and their conditions remain critical a day after the accident. Three Brazilian soldiers managed to escape without injury, having completed their rope exercise before the crash. The remaining injured personnel were transported to hospitals in the city of Formosa, where the exercise was being conducted. 

An investigation is pending

Marinha do Brasil is now determined to uncover the circumstances surrounding the accident. Local media have speculated about wind shear as a potential cause, while others suggest a collision with a bird, a common occurrence in the region.  

As of now, Brazilian investigators are on the scene, thoroughly examining the incident. At the time of this report, no temporary flight bans for the AH-15A/B and UH-15A/B Super Cougar have been imposed. However, all roping exercises in the Formosa region are put on hold until further notice. 

Two lives were lost, nine were injured – two critically – and a helicopter destroyed, this was a summer Tuesday that the Brazilian naval aviation will forever remember with profound sorrow.


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