Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Robinson R44, N8341W: Accident occurred September 30, 2012 in Nocona, Texas

http://registry.faa.gov/N8341W

NTSB Identification: CEN12LA669  
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, September 30, 2012 in Nocona, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/27/2013
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44, registration: N8341W
Injuries: 2 Minor,1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The noncertificated pilot was flying the helicopter at an altitude of 40 to 50 feet. The pilot commented to the passengers that he was concerned about the amount of fuel remaining onboard, then the helicopter impacted the water. Although the pilot reported a flashing light on the control panel and a buzzer indicating there was a problem with the helicopter, neither passenger reported seeing any warning lights or hearing any alarms before the impact. According to Robinson Helicopters, the aural warning is loud enough that anyone in the helicopter would hear it. A postaccident inspection revealed that both fuel tanks were empty but it could not be determined if the fuel lines were intact. Both passengers reported drinking alcohol prior to the accident and the passengers provided conflicting reports to local authorities as to whether the pilot had consumed alcohol prior to the flight. The pilot was taken to his father’s residence immediately following the accident, prior to the arrival of local authorities. The pilot subsequently refused to speak with the local authorities when they arrived at the residence. Multiple cans and bottles of beer were recovered from the accident site. The pilot’s attorney reported that there was no reason to believe there was a failure or malfunction of the helicopter airframe or its engine prior to the impact.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The noncertificated pilot’s operation of the helicopter, which resulted in impact with the water.

On September 30, 2012, at 1845 central daylight time, a Robinson Helicopter R44, N8341W, impacted Lake Nocona, Nocona, Texas. The non-certificated pilot and one passenger received minor injuries. A second passenger was not injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to the pilot and was being operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from Montague, Texas, about 1745.

The non-certificated pilot reported to a Texas Parks and Wildlife officer that they were flying over the lake when the helicopter suffered a “complete engine failure.” He stated that a buzzer was sounding and a flashing light on the control panel was illuminated indicating there was a problem with the helicopter. The helicopter then struck the water. All three occupants were able to exit the helicopter and they were picked up by a boat and transported to the shore.

Following the accident, prior to the arrival of local authorities, the pilot had friends take him to his father’s home where he refused to speak with local authorities. The two passengers were transported to the hospital.

One of the passengers stated to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that he and the other passenger drove to a friend's house earlier in the day, and that the pilot flew the helicopter to this same friend’s house where he landed. He stated that he consumed about 6 beers. He stated that he did not see the pilot consume any alcohol; however, in a statement to local authorities he stated "they had all been hanging out together and drinking beer before they loaded up in [the pilot's] helicopter."

The passenger stated he was seated in the right rear seat during the flight. He stated they flew around for about one hour and they were at an altitude of 40 to 50 above the lake just prior to the accident. He stated that the pilot mentioned that they needed to head back in order to have enough fuel to drop the passengers off in Montague and get back to the airport. This passenger stated that he did not hear any warning alarms in the helicopter prior to impacting the water, but that something did sound different to him prior to impact.

The other passenger who was seated in the front of the helicopter stated to local authorities that he consumed about six beers prior to the flight and he estimated that the others drank about the same. He stated that he did not hear any “buzzers” sounding or lights flashing inside the helicopter prior to it impacting the water.

The non-certificated pilot did not provide a statement to either the NTSB or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); however, the pilot's attorney did provide a statement that he spoke with the pilot and there was no reason to believe that there was a failure or malfunction with either the helicopter or the engine. According the FAA, the pilot was issued a third-class airmen medical certificate in 2008. The medical certificate was subsequently revoked due to falsification of records.

A postaccident inspection of the wreckage revealed that the right fuel tank was intact, but was partially pulled away from the fuselage. The left fuel tank was intact and it remained attached in place. Both fuel tanks were empty. It was not determined if the fuel lines from the tanks to the engine were compromised.

Local authorities reported that multiple cans and bottles of beer were recovered as they floated out from the wreckage.


NTSB Identification: CEN12LA669
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, September 30, 2012 in Nocona, TX
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44, registration: N8341W
Injuries: 2 Minor,1 Uninjured.


This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 30, 2012, at 1940 central daylight time, a Robinson R44 helicopter, N8341W, impacted Lake Nocona, Nocona, Texas. The non-certificated pilot and one passenger received minor injuries. A second passenger was not injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to the pilot and was being operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from Montague, Texas, about 1840.

IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 8341W        Make/Model: R44       Description: R-44 Astro
  Date: 10/01/2012     Time: 0040

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Destroyed

LOCATION
  City: NOCONA   State: TX   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  N8341W ROBINSON R44 ROTORCRAFT CRASHED INTO LAKE NOCONA, THE 3 PERSONS ON 
  BOARD SUSTAINED UNKNOWN INJURIES, 10 MILES FROM NOCONA, TX

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   1
                 # Pass:   2     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   2
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    


OTHER DATA
  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER


  FAA FSDO: FORT WORTH, TX  (SW19)                Entry date: 10/01/2012 


— The recovery of a helicopter that crashed into Lake Nocona in Montague County will be a project of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Three men received minor injuries in the crash Sunday evening.

Texas Game Warden Chase McAninch said the crash was reported around 6:45 p.m. in what he described as the center of the lake. The helicopter was reportedly being flown by Darren Fenoglio, Nocona and carried two passengers, Josh Walterscheid, Muenster, and Derrick Morse, Saint Jo.

McAninch said the helicopter sank to the bottom of the lake. Cause of the crash will be determined by the FAA.

Toby Howard, a lake resident, said he was watching TV inside his lake home Sunday night when he got a call from a neighbor, Terry Don Roberts, about 7 p.m. Roberts said he had been contacted by someone asking who might still have a boat in the water who could help with the rescue of survivors.

Lake Nocona has closed some of its boat ramps due to the low level of the lake, Howard said most of the ramps are difficult or impossible to maneuver, but he has kept his pontoon boat in the water.
 
“Terry Don gave me a general location, but I did not have a line of sight. He called me again with a better location and added there was a crash with survivors. I took a few minutes and picked Terry Don up, because I was concerned if things were really bad, I would need help,” Howard said.
 
As they got close to the crash Howard said they saw a small boat and lots of debris. They found Dr. Stephen Kabisch and his son were in their kayak at the edge of the debris field and three people were clinging to the kayak. Moving the pontoon boat closer, they were all able to help the injured men into the larger boat.

“The sun was going down so there was still some light. We headed toward the beach at Boone Park where there were lots of emergency responders. The survivors had a hard time staying afloat, so they took off some of their clothing. There was some blood with one that had a pretty large cut on the head.  They were very cold from being in the water so long. They also were confused and a little in shock, I think,” said Howard.

The pilot and his two passengers were transported to Nocona General Hospital, where they were treated and released, McAninch said.

City of Nocona officials said they had been contacted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality about possible concerns since Lake Nocona is a municipal water source, but that has been cleared said City Secretary Revell Hardison and TCEQ will not make a visit to the scene.

Howard played down his participation in the rescue effort, calling his actions “minimal,” adding the survivors may have been in more danger if Dr. Kabisch had not been around. A resident of Lake Nocona, Kabisch is a familiar figure on Lake Nocona using his kayak for exercise and to enjoy the lake.

http://www.timesrecordnews.com

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