Helicopter Experiences Hard Landing in California

An Arrow Falcon Exporters OH-58A helicopter landed hard in an orchard in Escalon, California on February 2, 2010. Shortly after takeoff the commercial pilot, who was flying for Cavanagh Flying Service, noticed the generator light was illuminated and the helicopter was also vibrating.

Shortly after relaying the message of the helicopter’s vibrations the pilot said “I’m going down.” The commercial pilot sustained serious injuries. The helicopter landed hard impacting terrain and sustained damage to the entire fuselage.

The helicopter wreckage was retained for further investigation.

Non-Fatal Hard Helicopter Landing in California

A commercial helicopter pilot flying for S and S Helicopters was in a Hiller UH-12E helicopter on February 2, 2010 when it landed hard near Los Banos, California.

The pilot had completed an aerial application of a wheat field and was returning to the landing area when the helicopter’s engine did not respond. The commercial pilot twisted the throttle, however the speed of the helicopter would not change. The pilot aborted the landing and steered the helicopter to a larger open field where he attempted to diagnose the problem by continuing to twist the throttle with no response from the helicopter.

The commercial helicopter pilot decided to perform a run-on landing. During this landing the helicopter’s speed began to decrease and the helicopter landed hard in the field.

Post-landing of the helicopter showed the tailboom separated from the aft bulkhead and the lower fuselage sustained damage.

After investigation into the crash, it was determined the throttle control lever was separated from the cam lever rod bearing, and thereby causing it to fail.

Helicopter Crash Near Shafter California

A commercial pilot operating a helicopter for Inland Crop Dusters, Inc., had to make a forced landing near Shafter, California on January 22, 2010.

While maneuvering over a field, the pilot noticed a “pop” and then a “yaw” from the helicopter. The pilot then immediately forced a hard landing in the field.

Further examination of the helicopter showed the main rotor blades contacted and severed the tail boom, as well as the engine was separated from its mounts.

Pilot Escapes Helicopter Crash in New York

A pilot narrowly escapes a helicopter crash in New York City, New York, when the helicopter he was flying was experiencing unusual vibration on January 18, 2010.

The pilot was on a cruise flight near Chelsea Pier, when he experienced the vibrations coming from the airframe, the anti-torque pedals, and cyclic.  He landed the helicopter at the West 30th Street Heliport (JRA).  The vibrations remained constant throughout the flight and increased upon landing as the rotor’s rpms’ were decreasing.

Upon successful landing of the helicopter, representatives of Liberty Helicopter and the FAA inspected the helicopter for damage. Inspection revealed a hole in the right side of the tail boom and the tail cone was also damaged. Also found was the pitch change link of one tail rotor blade which was not connected to the blade control horn. The FAA retained the tail rotor for further examination.

Maintenance records on January 11, 2010, revealed the tail rotor pitch change spider bearing was taken off and replaced because it is a life limited item.

Helicopter Crash Kills Tycoon in Mexico

One of Mexico’s leading entrepreneurs, Moises Saba Masri, and his wife and son have been killed in a helicopter crash about 35 miles west of Mexico City.

The helicopter crashed in what is believed to have been a very heavy fog. The pilot, Armando Fernandez, also died in the crash.

Witnesses report seeing the helicopter flying very low, clipping a multi-story house, then plunging into a ravine where it crashed, exploded, killing everyone on board.

Moises Saba Masri was a member of one of Mexico’s wealthiest families. Mr. Masri was a director of many business and had most of his fortune in real estate.

3 Survive in Idaho Helicopter Crash

A second helicopter crashed in less than two weeks in Boise, Idaho.
The helicopter was carrying two biologists who were reportedly studying elk, wolves, and moose as a part of wolf predation study, when the helicopter they were riding in had engine problems and crashed.

Two of the men walked away from the helicopter crash with minor injuries, while the the pilot suffered from back injuries and a broken arm. Since the helicopter crashed in a remote location, the pilot had to be med-evaced in an alternate helicopter to the hospital for treatment.

The helicopter crash comes after another one approximately two weeks ago where four people were killed.

Bell 206B Helicopter Crash in California Kills Four

NTSB Identification: WPR10GA097
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Tuesday, January 05, 2010 in Auberry, CA
Aircraft: BELL 206B, registration: N5016U
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

On January 5, 2010, at 1209 Pacific standard time, a Bell 206B, N5016U, collided with power lines near Auberry, California. The helicopter was registered to Palm Springs Aviation, Inc., and operated by the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) as a public-use, deer surveying flight. The certificated commercial pilot and three passengers were killed. The helicopter was destroyed by post crash fire. The local flight departed Trimmer Heliport, Trimmer, California, at 1006. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site, and a company flight plan had been filed.

Helicopter Crash Details

At the time of the accident two witnesses, who were law enforcement officers for the United States Forest Service, were located on a north facing ridge at the confluence of Willow Creek and the San Joaquin River. Both officers observed the helicopter emerge from a valley to the north, and fly southbound along Willow Creek directly towards their location. The valley was spanned from the east to west by power transmission lines. The officers reported that the helicopter continued through the valley, in straight and level flight, on a trajectory towards the power lines. As the helicopter came within the immediate vicinity of the lines it, ‘reared back’ and then began an immediate descent, colliding with the ground. The officers reported that prior to the accident the helicopter was not emitting smoke, and did not appear to be in distress. The officers stated that the weather at the time of the accident was clear, with a few high scattered clouds, and light winds out of the north.

The main wreckage came to rest on the valley floor of Willow Creek, at an approximate elevation of 1,200 feet mean sea level (msl). The elevation of the valley peaks directly to the east and west of the site was about 2,500 feet msl. The bases of the power line towers were at an approximate elevation of 1,600 feet msl, and separated by a span of 2,900 feet. The lines consisted of three parallel power transmission lines, which hung between the towers about 3/4 of the distance from their bases. The tops of the towers were spanned by two parallel, ‘static’ ground lines. Examination of the static line to the south revealed that it had severed approximately midspan, and had become entangled in the remaining lines.

The main wreckage, which consisted of the cabin, tailboom, and tail rotor, came to rest inverted at an approximate elevation of 1,200 msl, 100 feet south of the power lines’ midspan point. The entire cabin area was fire consumed. The main transmission and mast were located about 300 feet north of the main wreckage. The main rotor assembly, consisting of the entire ‘red’ blade, hub, and inboard section of the ‘white’ blade, came to rest on the adjacent banks of Willow Creek, about 90 feet northwest of the main wreckage. A 4-foot-long outboard section of the white main rotor blade was located 1,100 feet south of the main rotor assembly.

Examination of the main rotor blades revealed leading edge gouges, with abrasion marks consistent in appearance with the severed static line. The helicopter was equipped with a wire strike protection system. Examination of the systems cutting surfaces revealed them to be sharp and free of scratches, gouges, and abrasions. All major sections of the helicopter were accounted for at the accident site.

This is the preliminary NTSB report for the Bell 206B Helicopter Crash in Auberry, California that killed four on January 05, 2010.

Memorial for Flight Crew Killed in Crash

Conway, SC – More than a week after a deadly helicopter crash in Georgetown, hundreds gathered at Coastal Carolina University to say goodbye.

Flying was more than their job; it was a part of their lives.

“Diana, Patrick and Claxton helped make our world better and I am truly grateful,” Bob Peiser, CEO of OmniFlight, said. OmniFlight is the owner of the medical helicopter that crashed on September 25, 2009.

In the air, 45 year old Patrick Walters, 39 year old Claxton Dove and 42 year old Diana Connor were part of a medical helicopter crew that flew critical need patients to hospitals for care.

Officials say on their way back from dropping off a patient at MUSC, their helicopter crashed just south of Georgetown.

Sunday’s memorial was a chance for the public to grieve with the families and a chance for those families to say goodbye.

“He lived life to the fullest, never looking back,” Will Dove, Claxton Dove’s brother said. “Rest in peace my brother. This world was a better place because of you.”

“He was a man, a legend and a pilot,” Patrick Walter’s friend Chuck Petrill said. “He would be the guy that would pull over on the side of the road and help a person change a tire even if he didn’t know them.”

“Diana’s life was an example of love itself unconditional from its beginning and sacrificial until its end,” Megan Gunn, Diana Connor’s friend, said.

The NTSB is still investigating the cause of that crash and the investigation could take up to a year.

Eurocopter AS-350 B2 Medical Helicopter Crash

Fault found with pilot in Eurocopter AS-350 B2 Medical Helicopter crash

In the September 2009 Eurocopter AS-350 B2 OmniFlight medical helicopter crash in South Carolina, the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) said the Texas company contributed to the crash because it did not have a formal dispatch system which required its pilots to check in with dispatchers before taking off.

A formalized dispatch system could have helped the pilot realize there were storms between the Charleston hospital where he dropped off the patient and the helicopter’s home base in Conway, South Carolina.

In the 2009 Eurocopter AS-350 South Carolina crash, Pilot Patrick Walters, Flight Nurse Diana Conner, and Paramedic Randolph Claxton Dove, died in the crash. Pilot Patrick Walters likely became confused by low clouds and stormy conditions and lost control of his helicopter, according to the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB).

The pilot could have returned to Charleston Air Force Base/International Airport or landed at an alternate location. Instead, the pilot chose to enter the area of weather, despite the availability of safer options.

Contact a Helicopter Lawyer

If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a helicopter crash, then call us 24/7 for an immediate consultation to discuss the details of the accident and learn what we can do to help protect your legal rights. Whether the accident was caused by negligence on the part of the helicopter owner, hospital or corporation, the manufacturer or due to lack of training, poor maintenance, pilot or operator error, tail rotor failure, sudden loss of power, defective electronics or engine failure or flying in bad weather conditions, we can investigate the case and provide you the answers you need. Call Toll Free 1-800-883-9858 and talk to a Board Certified Trial Lawyer with over 30 years of legal experience or fill out our online form by clicking below:

Offshore Accidents Drive North Sea Helicopter Safety Focus

By Kieran Daly

Industrial accidents in the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry are at record lows, but a series of helicopter losses this year with 33 fatalities has ensured that air safety in the sector is enduring a degree of scrutiny rarely seen before.

The fact that one of the accidents occurred in Canadian offshore operations is of little consolation since it could just as easily have happened in the North Sea and, like the others, involved a state-of-the-art machine.

Even the one non-fatal aircraft loss among them served only to intensify workers’ fears when the subsequent rescue operation encountered unexpected difficulties despite the benign conditions.

One major consequence has been the creation by the Oil & Gas UK industry body of a Helicopter Task Group (HTG), while another has been the exposure of strains in its relationship with the British Air Line Pilots’ Association (BALPA) which represents most of the aviators in the sector.

The HTG chairman is Bob Keiller, the high-profile chief executive of energy services company Production Services Network which lost one of its own staff in the second of the North Sea accidents.

He says: “Companies involved in the April accident went through a very traumatic time. They have all been involved in press conferences and meetings and it was then we began to realise collectively that this was an area where it was our responsibility as leaders in these companies where we could do more and could do better.

“The confidence in the underlying safety of the helicopter fleet still remains high – but people have been sensitised to any helicopter issues much more than before and they want to know what was the issue and what is being done about it in terms of safety?”

HTG members include exploration and services companies, helicopter operators, trade unions, police and regulators. Relations with BALPA, which is a member, are fractious however, and the union’s leadership accuses O&GUK of “interfering” in safety matters where it is “unqualified”.

Nevertheless, the group has been highly ¬influential in driving the aviation safety agenda and particularly in selecting issues for ¬prioritisation.

Keiller says: “We have put a high degree of priority on anything that has the potential to reduce the likelihood of an accident ahead of anything that improves the response.”

The overwhelming priority was to implement the EASA airworthiness directives on the Eurocopter Super Pumas that are the backbone of the North Sea fleet and which required their brief grounding. In concert with that came action to try to improve the analysis of magnetic chip detector and health and usage monitoring system (HUMS) data pending introduction of newly developed software which was already under trial by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and Bristow Helicopters.

Two infrastructural development programmes nearing completion have also been given renewed impetus – the VHF voice rebroadcasting upgrade to improve controller-pilot communications, and more importantly, the multilateration surveillance system which will provide coverage of most of the North Sea operating area when it enters service next June (see panel).

Keiller says: “We have given a renewal of focus and urgency. We have removed any barriers to its successful completion. There were significant risks that further delays might have occurred had we not had everybody making sure that it didn’t happen.”
unsuspected problems

Ironically, however, the issue that has dominated much of the group’s time relates to unsuspected problems with the use of locator beacons which were highlighted in the non-fatal Super Puma accident in the North Sea in February. Even though it involved a modern aircraft ditching within sight of a rig in calm conditions, it was nearly two hours before the last survivor was rescued.

An interim Air Accidents Investigation Board (AAIB) report revealed that non-certificated – though legal – wristwatch personal locator beacons (PLB) routinely carried by oil workers caused the higher-powered, more capable electronic locator transmitters (ELT) carried by the pilots and on the dinghies to shut down.

This was due to a “smart” system in the ELTs designed to select a “master” beacon when they are in close proximity and to suppress the signal from the others in order to avoid confusing homing devices and save battery power. The result in the accident was that only the much weaker PLB signal was transmitted and no voice communications were available.

Furthermore, the AAIB discovered that neither the pilots nor passengers realised they should extend the telescopic aerials of the ELTs to provide the maximum range.

Keiller comments: “There are a lot of things that have come out that surprised me that were assumed to be common knowledge.”

The result, to the unhappiness of many offshore workers, was that the PLBs were ¬immediately banned from being carried in standby mode in case they accidentally start transmitting, and the HTG has been working energetically to have them reinstated. At the same time the smart capability of the ELTs is being disabled.

BALPA is also unhappy and wants only properly certified PLBs to be allowed, and for the ELT smart functionality to be restored. Paul Cook, BALPA national executive council member and an experienced North Sea pilot says: “You get passengers turning PLBs on in the aircraft and people taking spare ones in their bags. It is very much an electronic placebo but it will not save you and it may kill you.

“On a nice sunny day the aircraft will find the electronic noise and find the casualties with the mark one eyeball but what about on a stormy night?”

More generally BALPA believes that the CAA and Health & Safety Executive are insufficiently rigorous in their regulation of the ¬offshore world and too inclined to bow to ¬industry.Cook says: “We want the regulator to take back his job. The CAA is weak and ineffectual. We cannot allow the tail to wag the dog anymore.”

The union’s other concern is the use of a ship-mounted recovery device called the Dacon Scoop – a type of net which literally scoops casualties out of the sea but which is promoted as being usable in high sea conditions when other forms of rescue might be unavailable.

Cook says the union has concluded that the device is not safe in the sort of conditions in which it would probably be used and it has a formal policy that pilots should not fly when Dacon is the only or primary envisaged means of rescue, he says. That covers about 5% of North Sea flying and in practice some pilots follow the policy and some do not.

O&GUK says it is “generally in support” of the device but adds: “In the HTG it is something that needs to be discussed, so it is an open issue which we have shelved for a few weeks. We will talk about it and our position might change.”

But it may be that the single most important near-term step to be taken is the implementation of the new HUMS analysis software that has been trialled over the past two years at Bristow Helicopters. The system, produced by General Electric Aviation, will take the proportion of faults detectable from the currently estimated 69% to about 86% using artificial intelligence techniques to identify anomalies.

CAA research manager David Howson says: “Currently you look at each gear parameter individually and try to make sense of it but it doesn’t always pick up everything.

“Now we put all the data in one pot and do multivar analysis using computers that can cope with as many dimensions as you like.

“Previously you could not make it more sensitive without getting more false alarms and there were a lot of those already. Now you get more sensitivity and get fewer false alarms. Everybody who has seen the results speaks very highly indeed of it.”

It is hoped to have about 30% of the UK offshore fleet covered this year and the rest during 2010.

“There are a lot of things that have come out that were assumed to be common knowledge”, said Bob Keiller – Chairman, O&G UK Helicopter Task Group