Denel Mum on Crash Landing
Johannesburg - The SA National Defence Force on Monday remained mum on damage to one of the SA Air Force's (SAAF) Rooivalk attack helicopters, sustained when it made a crash landing.
Spokesperson Colonel John Rolt said the damage was for a board of inquiry, already convened, to determine.
The helicopter went down between Bapsfontein and Cullinan, west of Pretoria, during a test flight on Friday morning.
Its air force pilot and weapon operator were not hurt.
The SAAF is in the process of acquiring 12 of the locally developed gunships.
They are operated by 16 Squadron based at Bloemfontein airport.
Rolt said the helicopter was at Denel Aviation for an "upgrade and modification".
Denel workers were on the scene within minutes of the crash.
Workers and soldiers at first, apparently, prohibited journalists from taking pictures of the site or approaching the grounded craft.
A weekend newspaper carried a photo of the aircraft, lying on its belly, on Sunday.
Witnesses said the helicopter's undercarriage and the left of its belly were damaged after the gunship made an emergency landing following an apparent engine failure.
The engines are manufactured by the French Turbomeca company which recently bought a 51% stake in Denel's engine plant. The Makila engines are also used aboard the SAAF's Oryx helicopters, with which the Rooivalk has much in common.
The Rooivalk programme has been running for some 15 years but has always been hampered by financial constraints and the failure to sell it to a foreign user.
Opportunities in Australia and Malaysia have all come to nought.
Denel would not, on Monday, comment on the incident.
With acknowledgements to www.news24.co.za