German Leader's Narrow Escape After Her Helicopter Falls 3300ft Following An Engine Failure
The German Chancellor had a narrow escape when her police chopper fell like a stone from the sky just hours after dropping her off.
The pilots managed to restart the engines just moments before it hit the ground.
The Super Puma 332 had left Mrs Merkel at an election campaign event in Waldshut-Tiengen on the Swiss border when disaster struck.
Two-hundred miles into its journey and travelling at an altitude of 5250ft, the helicopter fell for almost two minutes to a height of 1950ft before the police crew regained control.
The 21-seat aircraft had only just entered service, in December 2010, and officials have launched an urgent investigation into the cause of last Wednesday's incident.
Experts told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag that sabotage has been ruled out.
A police official told the weekly paper: ‘It's a precarious situation when both engines go out at the same time. The crew acted just as they were supposed to and got the engines going again.’
The lives of the three-man crew were saved by the aircraft’s ‘autorotation’ capability. This means that the force of air hitting a falling helicopter’s rotors makes them turn and slows the descent in the event of an engine failure, giving the pilots crucial time to save their lives.
All new helicopters must demonstrate this capability by law.