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Police Helicopter Crashes into Lake Balaton

Hungary Today 2023.09.08.

On Thursday afternoon, a police helicopter ran into trouble on the southern shore of Lake Balaton, at Balatonszéplak. According to regional news site Sonline.hu, the helicopter crashed into the lake and sank into the water. A video of the accident has been published since then.

The two-man crew of the plane was reportedly rescued by a boat nearby. Although the pilots were airlifted from the scene by rescue helicopter, fortunately there were no serious injuries.

Divers arrived at the scene around 5pm on Thursday afternoon and started to assess the technical rescue options. The helicopter crashed into the water about 300 meters from the shore. The technical rescue did not take long, and at around 7:30 p.m. news and pictures were already coming in that the helicopter had been recovered from the lake.

Photo: MTI/Vasvári Tamás

The National Police Headquarters issued the following information about the accident:

“During a planned exercise of the Air Police of the Rapid Response and Special Police Service, on 7 September 2023 at 14.44 near Balatonszéplak, about 300 meters from the shore, a helicopter of type MD-500E crashed into the water of the lake for reasons that are currently unclear. The two-man crew of the plane were rescued by a nearby boat and brought to shore without serious injury. The circumstances of the incident are under investigation.”

A video showing the Air Police’s work was uploaded on PoliceHungary’s YouTube channel the day before yesterday, accompanied by a caption saying that police helicopters serve and protect from above.

In order for the pilots of the Rapid Response and Special Police Service to be able to make the right decisions with them in every situation, they need to practice regularly. One such training exercise is taking place this week at Lake Balaton.

Ongoing technical rescue of the helicopter at Lake Balaton. Photo: MTI/Vasvári Tamás

Magyar Nemzet also reported that the Rapid Response and Special Police Service have eleven MD-902 and four MD-500E helicopters in use, the latter of which was the helicopter that had an accident on Thursday.

The American MD-500Es have been in service with the Hungarian police for more than three decades.

The Ministry of the Interior also uses such aircraft, but unfortunately several of them have been involved in accidents. On November 22, 1994, the commander of the air police and his pilot colleague who was sitting next to him were killed in a crash while approaching Budapest Airport. The R506 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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Featured photo via MTI/Vasvári Tamás

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