MARSEILLE, Jun 26 – All six people on board a helicopter owned by the chopper manufacturer Eurocopter died on Wednesday when the aircraft plunged into a mountain in southeastern France, sources said.
The bodies were recovered from near the village of La-Palud-sur-Verdon, a source close to the crash inquiry said. Local officials had said earlier that the helicopter was an army aircraft.
A nearby restaurant owner told AFP that “customers having lunch on the terrace started yelling – there was an explosion and lots of black smoke”.
A Eurocopter spokesman said the six men on board the Cougar helicopter, a version of the civilian Super Puma AS 532 AL aircraft designed for military use, were test pilots and engineers working for the group and that the aircraft was on a test flight before being delivered to a buyer.
Eurocopter’s security development director Gilles Bruniaux described the men as “hardened professionals”.
The helicopter came down at around 1145 GMT near a group of people hiking in the popular tourist area and the crash injured one of them slightly on the ankle, local officials said.
One of the possible causes of the accident being considered was that the chopper hit an electricity cable, the source close to the crash inquiry said.
Experts from the French aviation safety authority and Eurocopter staff were on the way to the site to help try and determine the cause, the company said.
A private jet crashed in the same region on July 13, killing three people.