Friday, September 12, 2014

Bell 206L LongRanger IV, N64AW, Cochise County Sheriff’s Department, Airwest Helicopters LLC: Accident occurred September 12, 2014 in Tombstone, Arizona


NTSB Identification: WPR14LA374 
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, September 12, 2014 in Tombstone, AZ
Aircraft: BELL 206, registration: N64AW
Injuries: 2 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 12, 2014 about 1115 mountain standard time, the pilot of a Bell 206L4, N64AW, initiated a forced landing onto a gravel road following a partial loss of power near Tombstone, Arizona. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Airwest Helicopters LLC under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. The commercial rated pilot and one passenger were uninjured; the helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tail boom. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company visual flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Sierra Vista Municipal Airport – Libby Army Airfield, Sierra Vista, Arizona at 1050 for a local flight.

The pilot reported that during cruise flight the helicopter's RPM suddenly started to decrease, he reduced power and initiated a forced landing. During the approach to land the engine lost complete power and the helicopter impacted the ground hard. Subsequently, the helicopter's skids spread and the main rotor blade severed the tail boom.

The helicopter was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

TOMBSTONE, Ariz. – A pilot and passenger walked away uninjured after the Cochise County Sheriff's Office's helicopter was forced to make a hard landing southwest of Tombstone Friday morning.

The pilot landed the helicopter near the 1000 block of Old Bisbee Highway at approximately 11:20 a.m.

Spokeswoman Carol Capas said the pilot, Larry Pucci, landed Cochise Air in a clearing in the middle of significant brush. Damage to the helicopter included a missing rear rotor.

Pucci and the law enforcement observer on board, Officer Justin Dannels, were examined by medical personnel and released.

Cochise Air had been in a normal daily flight pattern when it checked on reports of heavy black smoke in the Palominas area at about 10:15 a.m., according to Capas. After determining the smoke was from a controlled burn, the helicopter returned to the Sierra Vista Municipal Airport before taking off again to survey the county area.

It was at this point that Dannels reported the helicopter was down.

At this time, it is unclear what happened to the rotor.

The cause of the incident remains under investigation and the Federal Aviation Administration was contacted.

Officials with Airwest Helicopters said they will have a replacement helicopter back in Cochise County by Saturday.

- Source:

The pilot and a passenger of a Cochise County sheriff's helicopter were not hurt when the aircraft made a hard landing on Friday near Tombstone.

The sheriff's department said pilot Larry Pucci, and the observer, Sierra Vista police Officer Justin Dannels walked away from the landing without injuries. Dannels is the son of Cochise Sheriff Mark Dannels.

A news release from the department said the helicopter had checked out a report of black smoke in the Palominas area and determined it was a controlled burn.

The helicopter returned to the Sierra Vista airport for a while before taking off again.

It was Dannels who reported the rotorcraft had made a hard landing shortly before 11:30 a.m. southwest of Tombstone.

The helicopter's rear rotor was damaged in the landing. The two occupants were checked by medical personnel, but did not need to be taken to a hospital.

The cause of the incident is under investigation and the FAA has been notified, the sheriff's department said.

The sheriff's helicopter is owned by Airwest, which said it was going to send a replacement helicopter for the department to use by Saturday.

- Source:

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