NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division has joined the Federal Aviation Administration in investigating whether four helicopter pilots violated safety rules with a dramatic flight through Nissan Stadium right before a November 14 Saints-Titans game.
This news comes a day after the FAA said the incident was the subject of its own "pending investigation."
"The 101st Airborne Division is conducting a commander’s inquiry into the event," division spokesperson Lt. Col. Kari McEwen said in an email to NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
Another spokesperson told the Army Times that the 101st Airborne Division’s commanding general, Maj. Gen. Joseph McGee, ordered the prelimnary inquiry.
The Army Times reported that the division’s deputy commanding officer for operations, Col. Bernard Harrington, is leading the inquiry.
"Harrington is senior to the pilot who directed the flyover, 101st CAB commander Col. Travis Habhab," the Times reported.
"Habhab was recently cleared in a command climate investigation after a subordinate unit had discipline issues in Poland. During the Nov. 14 incident, Habhab was piloting the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter that led the flyover."
Watch videos of flyover below:
According to the U.S. Army's Commander's Legal Handbook, "A preliminary inquiry is used to ascertain the magnitude of a problem, to identify and interview witnesses, to summarize or record witnesses’ statements, to determine whether an investigation or board may be necessary or to assist in determining the scope of a subsequent investigation."
The review likely will focus on whether the Army pilots violated FAA authorization and their own assigned mission when they dropped their choppers below the highest levels of Nissan Stadium.
Generally, military flyovers are required to be conducted at 1,000 feet above the highest structure.
Helicopters are given some leeway "provided each person operating the helicopter complies with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA."
Photos provided by a NewsChannel 5 viewer suggest that, two days before the Saints-Titans game, the helicopters were practicing flying above the stadium and not dipping down into it.
A retired aviation safety inspector told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that the flyover, or "fly through," likely violated safety guidelines established by the FAA.