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The Navy and Marines have ordered new safety measures for a class of heavy-duty helicopters after an NBC News investigation highlighted potential dangers in the wake of a deadly crash. The Navy has ordered a more rigorous inspection process for fuel and hydraulic hoses and electrical wiring that were implicated in accidents involving their MH-53E aircraft, known as Sea Dragons. The Marines have suspended in-flight refueling for their CH-53Es, which are called Super Stallions.
Between 1969-1990, more than 200 servicemen had been killed in accidents involving the CH-53A, CH-53D and CH-53E. The MH-53E Sea Dragon is the U.S. Navy's helicopter most prone to accidents, with 27 deaths from 1984 to 2008. During that timeframe its rate of Class A mishaps, meaning serious damage or loss of life, was 5.96 per 100,000 flight hours, more than twice the Navy helicopter average of 2.26. A 2005 lawsuit alleges that since 1993 there were at least 16 in-flight fires or thermal incidents involving the No. 2 engine on Super Stallion helicopters. The suit claims that proper changes were not made, nor were crews instructed on emergency techniques.