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Likely Cause of Lake Balaton Helicopter Crash Revealed

Hungary Today 2023.09.18.

According to the primary assessment, the accident of the nearly 40-year-old police helicopter at Lake Balaton may have been caused by a technical failure. Péter Jamrik, Balaton Development Council’s public safety advisor, said that several fortunate moments contributed to the fact that the two pilots escaped the accident without a scratch, writes Magyar Nemzet.

The police helicopter crashed into Lake Balaton on the afternoon of September 7 due to a technical malfunction caused by a material defect, Péter Jamrik, the Lake Balaton Development Council’s public safety advisor, said at the organization’s latest meeting.

It is known that an MD-500E helicopter crashed into the waters of the lake near Balatonszéplak (southern shore of Lake Balaton), about 300 meters from the shore, during a planned exercise of the Air Police of the National Standby Police. The two-man crew of the aircraft were rescued by a nearby boat and brought to shore without serious injury.

Jamrik stated that

the first report came to the center from the coast two minutes after the accident. The two pilots were picked up from the water six minutes later.

A water police boat was on its way to the scene of the accident as well. One of the helicopter’s two broken rotors was recovered the same day, the other on the next day.

Photo via MTI/Vasvári Tamás

The exact cause of the accident is still under investigation.

The aircraft has to be dismantled for parts and more material tests are still to be carried out.

As far as Jamrik is aware, only one of these nearly 40-year-old MD-500E helicopters is still in service with the police department, apart from the one that crashed. He explained that there were many lucky elements in the rescue of the two pilots. “It was a lucky moment that the technical failure occurred at low altitude, which then caused the helicopter to spin.” As soon as the helicopter hit the water, it turned on its side so that the pilots were able to open the door and that the windscreen or glass broke.


The American MD-500Es have been in service with the Hungarian police for more than three decades. However, several of them have unfortunately been involved in accidents. On November 22, 1994, the commander of the air police and his pilot colleague were killed in a crash while approaching Budapest Airport. The helicopter crashed after dark in difficult weather conditions and the accident was caused by the engine’s intake manifold icing up.

Ten years later, in May 2004, at Siófok-Kiliti airport near Lake Balaton, and in September 2006, at Budapest Airport, serious injuries were caused by a technical failure in an MD-500, but fortunately neither incident resulted in fatalities or personal injuries.

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Via Magyar Nemzet, Featured image via police.hu

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