Thursday, March 19, 2015

A high-flying award: Larry Diffley to be inducted into Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame



BEMIDJI -- Larry Diffley was all about reaching for new heights.

Now, the late aviation pioneer from Bemidji will soar into the Hall of Fame.

Diffley is one of six people who will be inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame in Bloomington on April 25.

“We are extremely proud and excited,” said Jennifer Benjamin, Diffley’s daughter. “We heard from so many of the pilots that he had trained them or that he had an impact on their careers.”

Diffley died at age 74 in 2012 when his plane crashed during an aerial pipeline survey near Chicago.

Diffley and Mark Shough took over Bemidji Aviation in 1970; at the time the company had three planes and three employees. Now, the employee-owned company is the fixed base operator at the Bemidji Regional Airport, with 60 employees and more the 40 planes. The company does everything from providing fuel, maintenance, hangar and plane rental to flight training and more.

Diffley was born in Bemidji, growing up on the family farm in Becida. He was a graduate of Bemidji High School and attended Bemidji State College. He joined the National Guard and at age 21 and later moved to Los Angeles, where he took flight lessons and soloed out of the famed LAX airport, before returning to Bemidji in 1970 to purchase Bemidji Aviation with Shough.

“He was for everything aviation and anything to promote aviation,” Shough, Bemidji Aviation’s president, said of Diffley. “He had a big impact on a lot of employees over the years, many of whom are still in aviation.”

Along with flight instruction, Diffley also flew charters, air ambulance and patrolled pipelines. He often flew aerial surveys for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, as well as fire patrols; in fact, he flew all over the U.S. on firefighting missions, according to his Hall of Fame induction release.

In the wake of Diffley’s death, his children established the Larry Diffley Memorial Aviation Scholarship Fund with the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, which awards scholarships to young people embarking on careers in aviation.

The Diffley family also established the Mimi Diffley Memorial Scholarship Endowment with the Sanford Health Foundation of Northern Minnesota after Diffley’s wife, Mimi, died in 2007 of breast cancer. That fund provides scholarships for Sanford Health employees wanting to further their education and advance their careers. Mimi Diffley worked as a nurse for North Country Health Services for more than 20 years.

Along with Diffley, the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame will induct Robert Gilruth, former NASA director from Nashwauk; Gen. Leo Goodrich of St. Paul, Air National Guard officer and assistant adjutant general; Frank Judd, early Northwest Airlines captain from Minneapolis; Robert Rishovd, helicopter pioneer from Minneapolis and Lt. Col. John Voth, Air Force veteran from St. Cloud. The organization also will give out awards for Aviation Writer of the Year and Aviation Artist of the Year, as well as present various scholarships to youth pursuing careers in the aviation or aerospace industries, a release said.

Original article can be found here:  http://www.bemidjipioneer.com

NTSB Identification: CEN13FA089
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, December 04, 2012 in Manhattan, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/30/2013
Aircraft: BEECH 58, registration: N4016A
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot was conducting pipeline surveillance at the time of the accident. A witness reported that he observed the accident airplane in level flight about 50 feet above a nearby two-story house. Everything appeared normal at that time; however, when he looked up a few moments later, the airplane was “sideways” with the wings oriented vertically. The airplane impacted an open field. The accident site was located about 1/3 mile east-southeast of the pipeline under surveillance. The debris path was about 950 feet long, and the airframe was fragmented during the impact sequence. A postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction. Analysis of all available information related to the accident did not reveal a definitive cause for the in-flight loss of control and impact with terrain.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
An in-flight loss of control and impact with terrain for reasons that could not be determined because postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On December 4, 2012, about 1438 central standard time, a Beech model 58, N4016A, impacted an open field near Manhattan, Illinois. The commercial pilot sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. The aircraft was registered to and operated by Bemidji Aviation Services under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a pipeline surveillance flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from Bemidji Regional Airport (BJI) about 0915. The intended destination was Joliet Regional Airport (JOT), Joliet, Illinois, after completion of the surveillance activity.

A witness reported that he observed the accident airplane in level flight, heading south at a “really low” altitude; estimating its altitude as about 50 feet above a nearby two-story house. Everything appeared normal at that time. He noted that it was not uncommon to see airplanes and helicopters flying low in that area as they conducted pipeline or power line surveillance. He went back to his work; however, when he looked up again a few moments later, the airplane was “sideways” with the wings oriented vertically.

The airplane impacted an open field on a south-southeast bearing. The accident site was located about one-third mile east-southeast of the pipeline under surveillance.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with single and multi-engine land airplane, single-engine sea airplane, and instrument airplane ratings. He was issued a second class airman medical certificate on May 23, 2012, with a restriction for corrective lenses.

On the application for his medical certificate, the pilot reported a total flight time of 27,000 hours, with about 40 hours flown within the preceding 6 months. He had reported a flight time of approximately 11,000 hours in Beech model 58 airplanes on a pilot qualification record dated June 10, 2011.

Full Narrative: http://www.ntsb.gov

Plane crash leads to a dilemma with insurance; home's owners getting a lesson in aircraft liability coverage: Renegade Spirit, N955R, fatal accident occurred December 13, 2014 near Malcolm McKinnon Airport (KSSI), St. Simons Island, Brunswick, Georgia

ST. SIMONS ISLAND | Deborah and Sinclair Frederick are learning a lesson about aircraft insurance - or the lack of it.

On Dec. 13, the Fredericks were at their weekend home in Camden County when a biplane nose-dived into their house while taking off from McKinnon St. Simons Island Airport. The pilot and owner of the plane, James Ronald Wood, 68, was killed when his one-seat biplane crashed off the south end of the airport.

The damage to their home wasn't extensive. It crashed into a section of the overhang of the living room roof, splintering the supports and crushing the soffit, the covering underneath the eaves. The corner wall of the room is sagging and a crack runs from the ceiling a short distance down the corner.

Sitting in the living room of his house, Sinclair Frederick pointed to a window just below where the plane made impact and said, "It didn't even break that window."

It would suggest an easy fix, but the Fredericks' white brick ranch house may be unlike any others in their neighborhood and perhaps the county. Deborah Frederick showed a small plaque found inside an interior wall during a remodeling project that indicates their home is a U.S. Steel house.

It was built in 1959, when U.S. Steel and Foster Gunnison were turning out prefab homes with steel roof trusses and other components. The sturdiness of the steel may be why the window wasn't broken, but it may make repairs difficult.

The roof is repaired, but the rafter tails that extend the roof beyond the exterior walls are exposed underneath because the steel soffit that was crushed isn't readily available, if at all. As far as they can tell, nobody is making the steel materials that would let them restore their house to the way it was before Dec. 13.

The Fredericks were distraught over Woods' death as were their neighbors. Witnesses said they heard popping noises from the experimental plane before the engine quit altogether and the plane went almost straight down.

Now the Fredericks are faced with the lingering aggravation of repairs.

"We've run into the problem of the pilot not having insurance,'' Deborah Frederick said.

The Fredericks learned that, unlike auto insurance - and, under President Barack Obama, health insurance - liability insurance on aircraft is not mandatory.

"There is no statutory requirement for insurance on airplanes,'' said Glenn Allen, a spokesman for the Georgia Insurance Commissioner's Office.

The normal remedy, he said, is for the homeowner's insurer to cover the loss and go after the estate of the person responsible for the loss.

"They would subrogate the damages,'' and the Fredericks shouldn't even have to pay a deductible, Allen said.

But the Fredericks said they have been in touch with Woods' family, and it appears the estate doesn't have the assets to cover the damage.

That leaves them wondering why the Glynn County Airport Commission doesn't require liability insurance.

Robert Burr, executive director of the Glynn County Airport Commission, said the commission doesn't have the authority to require it because such regulation would come under the FAA, which licenses pilots.

The county owns the airports on St. Simons and in Brunswick and the airport commission operates the two facilities.

"We require businesses to have insurance,'' he said. "We own real estate. We lease buildings and real estate."

Others familiar with the issue said that when states have tried to mandate liability insurance for aircraft, the federal government has asserted its authority, saying such a requirement would interfere with constitutionally protected interstate commerce.

DeKalb Peachtree Airport in Atlanta does require plane owners there to have $1 million in liability insurance, said Mike Van Wie, director of the county-owned airport.

The requirement is only for planes based at the airport, he said.

"That's not necessarily for the protection of homeowners,'' Van Wie said. "That's for the protection of the planes here."

Should a pilot accidentally strike and damage another plane while taxiing, for example, the damage would be covered, he said.

He couldn't say whether the policies would cover damage in a crash off airport property.

Van Wie said it's part of doing business at the airport.

"For them to be based here, they have to enter into an agreement with the airport or another tenant,'' he said.

The Fredericks don't know if they'll ever get their house back to some semblance of the way it was.

The roof is fixed and the house stays dry when it rains. Sinclair Frederick is an electrician, so he handled the electrical problems.

But for the steel parts, they're searching wherever they can, so far without luck.

Original article can be found here:    http://insurancenewsnet.com

http://registry.faa.gov/N955R 

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA075 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, December 13, 2014 in Brunswick, GA
Aircraft: JOHNSON DAVID EARL RENEGADE SPIRIT, registration: N955R
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 December 13, 2014, about 1340 eastern standard time, an experimental amateur-built Johnson David Earl Renegade Spirit, N955R, was substantially damaged when it impacted a residence just after takeoff from Malcom McKinnon Airport (SSI), Brunswick, Georgia. The private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local, personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

A witness, who was also a friend of the pilot, reported that he and the pilot had been working on the accident airplane for several weeks, and that the pilot had been having trouble with the airplane's engine. On the day of the accident, the pilot stated that he was going to perform some high-speed taxi tests, and that he might attempt to fly the airplane. The witness observed as the pilot taxied to runway 22, applied engine power, and accelerated down the runway. The airplane became airborne and disappeared from sight behind a row of hangars. The airplane then re-appeared momentarily just over the trees at the end of the runway, and the witness stated that it was in a "nose-high" attitude and appeared to be "struggling." 

The airplane came to rest upright against a residence. The forward fuselage and cockpit area sustained significant aft crushing damage, and the empennage remained intact. First responders stated that fuel was leaking from the airplane. There was no postcrash fire. 

The airplane was subsequently recovered from the accident site, and further examination of the airframe and engine was scheduled for a later date.







Piper PA-46-500TP Meridian, Daedalus Air LLC, N301D: Fatal accident occurred February 04, 2015 in Lubbock, Texas

NTSB Identification: CEN15FA135 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 04, 2015 in Lubbock, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/02/2016
Aircraft: PIPER PA46 500TP, registration: N301D
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The instrument-rated private pilot was conducting a personal cross-country flight in the airplane. A review of the air traffic control transcripts and radar data revealed that the pilot was executing the RNAV GPS Y instrument approach to the runway. The air traffic controller then canceled the pilot’s approach clearance and issued a heading change off of the approach course to provide spacing between a preceding aircraft. The pilot acknowledged the heading assignment. Radar data indicated that, after the controller cancelled the approach, the airplane began a left climbing turn from 5,600 to 5,800 ft, continued the left turn through the assigned 270 heading, and then descended rapidly. At that point, the airplane was no longer visible on the controller’s radar display, and contact with the pilot was lost. The final recorded radar return showed the airplane at 5,100 ft. The airplane impacted a television tower guy wire, several power lines, and terrain, and then came to rest in an open field about 800 ft from the tower. 

A postaccident examination of the airplane and engine revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. A postaccident examination of the engine revealed rotational signatures on the first-stage compressor blades and light rotational signatures in the compressor and power turbines, and debris was found in the engine’s gas path, all of which are consistent with engine rotation at impact. 

A witness in the parking lot next to the television tower stated that he heard the accident airplane overhead, saw a large flash of light that filled his field of view, and then observed the television tower collapse on top of itself. Surveillance videos located 1.5 miles north-northeast and 0.3 mile north-northwest of the accident site showed the airplane in a left descending turn near the television tower. After it passed the television tower, multiple bright flashes of light were observed, which were consistent with the airplane impacting the television tower guy wire and then the power lines. Further, the radar track and accident wreckage were consistent with a rapid, descending left turn to impact. 

Weather conditions were conducive to the accumulation of ice at the destination airport about the time that the pilot initiated the left turn. It is likely that the airplane accumulated at least light structural icing during the descent and that this affected the airplane’s controllability. Also, the airplane likely encountered wind gusting up to 31 knots as it was turning; this also could have affected the airplane’s controllability. 

The night, instrument meteorological conditions at the time of the accident were conducive to the development of spatial disorientation, and the airplane’s rapid, descending left turn to impact is consistent with the pilot’s loss of airplane control due to spatial disorientation. Therefore, based on the available evidence, it is likely that, while initiating the climbing left turn, the pilot became spatially disoriented, which resulted in his loss of airplane control and his failure to see and avoid the tower guy wire, and that light ice accumulation on the airplane and the gusting wind negatively affected the airplane’s controllability. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's loss of airplane control due to spatial disorientation and light ice accumulation while operating in night, instrument meteorological conditions with gusting wind.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On February 4, 2015, at 1930 central st
andard time, a Piper PA46 500TP airplane, N301D, collided with a television (TV) tower guy wire and terrain about 7 miles south of the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport (LBB), Lubbock, Texas. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to Deadalus Air LLC, and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed en route. The airplane departed the Cavern City Air Terminal (CNM), Carlsbad, New Mexico about 1830 and was en route to LBB. 

A review of the LBB air traffic control transcripts and radar data revealed the pilot was executing the RNAV (GPS) Y instrument approach to runway 35L. The controller canceled the pilot's approach clearance for spacing and issued a heading change off of the approach course. The airplane started a left climbing turn and then descended; the airplane was no longer visible on the radar display and contact with the pilot was lost. Additional attempts to contact the pilot were unsuccessful. 

A witness located in a parking lot next to the TV tower stated that he heard the accident airplane overhead and it sounded like the airplane's engine was operating. He looked up and saw a large flash of light that filled his field of view. He observed the TV tower's red beacon lights disappear and then the tower collapsed on top of itself. He described the weather as cold, very low clouds, and no precipitation. 

Surveillance videos from two different locations showed the airplane in a steep descent headed toward the tower. The airplane passed behind the tower and then multiple large flashes of light were observed. 

PERSONNEL INFORMATION 

The pilot, age 60, held a private pilot certificate with single engine and multi-engine land airplane and instrument airplane ratings. According to his training records and incomplete pilot logbook entries, as of December 31, 2013, he had accumulated 1,073 total hours, 117 of which were at night. He had accumulated 50 hours in actual IFR conditions and 44 hours in simulated IFR. The pilot's complete background in the accident airplane could not be determined because the logbook entries were incomplete. 

On March 29, 2013, the pilot was issued a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third class medical certificate with the limitation that he must have available glasses for near vision. On the application for the medical certificate, he reported his total flight experience to be 2,067 hours and 45.5 hours in the last 6 months. 

On December 31, 2013, the pilot completed a biennial flight review (BFR). During the BFR, the pilot satisfactorily completed an instrument proficiency check and was found proficient in the operation of a pressurized aircraft. 

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The six-seat, low wing, retractable landing gear airplane with cabin pressurization capability, was manufactured in 2001. The airplane was powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42A reverse flow, free turbine engine. The engine drove a four blade, metal, constant speed propeller with reversing and full feathering capabilities. Each propeller blade was equipped with an electric deice boot.

On December 22, 2014, the airframe, engine and propeller were inspected in accordance with an annual inspection and were determined to be in airworthy condition. 

On December 22, 2011, the airplane was retrofitted with pilot and co-pilot Garmin G500 flight displays, No. 1 and No. 2 Garmin GTN75O touchscreen navigators, GMA35 remote audio control, GTX33 remote mode 'S' transponder, GDL69A XM weather data receiver with XM Radio, and an upgraded S-Tec 1500 autopilot computer for wide area augmentation system (WAAS).

A fuel receipt found in the airplane, dated February 4, 2015 at 14:23:58, indicated that the airplane had been fueled with 35 gallons of Jet A fuel. 

A fuel burn calculation for the entire flight was estimated to be 35.5 gallons. 

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION 

At 1853, the weather observation station for LBB, located 10 miles north of the accident site, reported wind from 030° at 21 knots gusting to 31 knots, 8 miles visibility, overcast cloud layer at 800 ft above ground level (agl), temperature 28° F, dew point 25° F, and altimeter setting 30.24 inches of mercury; peak wind from 20° at 34 knots and occasional blowing dust. 

At 1947, a special weather observation for LBB reported wind from 040° at 18 knots gusting to 27 knots, 7 miles visibility, overcast cloud layer at 700 ft agl, temperature 28° F, dew point 25° F, and altimeter setting 30.28 inches of mercury; peak wind from 030° at 31 knots. 

Prior to the accident, a pilot report (PIREP) was issued for moderate rime ice at 5,200 ft mean sea level (msl) / 1,918 ft agl about 10 miles south of the airport. The pilot acknowledged receipt of this report. 

Lockheed Martin Flight Services had no history of contact with the accident pilot on February 4, 2015. 

COMMUNICATIONS

A chronological summary of communications with the Lubbock Air Traffic Control Tower (LBB ATCT). 

1907:20 The accident pilot first contacted LBB reporting an altitude of 16,700 ft and descending to 14,000 ft. The LBB radar controller instructed the pilot to descend at his discretion to 7,000 ft and confirmed the pilot's receipt of the current ATIS information "Whiskey."

1907:58 The LBB radar controller informed the pilot that a regional jet had reported moderate rime icing at 5,000 feet approximately 10 miles south of the airfield, and the pilot acknowledged with "okay, I'll be looking." 

1909:32 The pilot requested the current ceiling and the radar controller informed him that bases had been previously reported 3,900 feet. The pilot acknowledged stating that it was better than "his weather information" which had indicated an 800 ft ceiling. The controller then explained that the bases were reported in msl, which would make the ceiling approximately 800 feet agl. The pilot acknowledged, and stated his information was in agreement. 

1912:23 A position relief briefing took place on the LBB radar controller in which all pertinent information was passed to the relieving radar controller to include current ATIS information, PIREP information, approach in use, and traffic information including N301D who had been cleared to 7,000 ft. 

1914:19 The radar controller announced on the recorded line that the required controller two minute overlap after relief was complete. 

1918:02 The radar controller asked the pilot what type of approach was being requested and the pilot stated that he wanted the RNAV RWY 35L, but that he was having a little trouble getting his instruments set up and wanted to circle until he could get things worked out. The radar controller then asked the pilot to advise once he knew what he wanted to do. 

1918:41 The radar controller instructed the pilot to maintain at or above 8,000 ft, that he could continue on his present heading, and told him he would just box him back in once he had figured out his instrument issues. The pilot acknowledged with a correct read back. 

1921:24 The pilot stated that he wanted to turn south direct to ZOVOC for the RNAV RWY 35L. The radar controller instructed him to turn right to a 160 heading and descend and maintain 7,000 ft. The pilot acknowledged the turn, but not the descent. 

1922:20 The radar controller asked the pilot for his current altitude, and the pilot stated that he was descending through 9,340 ft to 7,000 ft. 

1923:00 The radar controller asked the pilot how many flying miles he would need to make his descent to the airport. The pilot responded that he just wanted to continue his present direction for a bit further and then he could start his turn back to the west and continue on his flight plan to ZOVOC. 

1923:17 The radar controller instructed the pilot to turn right to a 220 heading. The pilot acknowledged with a correct read back.

1924:39 The radar controller instructed the pilot to turn right to a 260 heading. The pilot acknowledged with a correct read back. 

1925:19 The radar controller cleared the flight for the RNAV Y RWY 35L approach and instructed the pilot to cross ZOVOC at or above 6,000 ft. The pilot acknowledged the "direct ZOVOC", but had some trouble understanding the remainder of the controller's instructions. After some clarification, the accident pilot acknowledged the approach clearance and altitude crossing restriction. 

1926:13 The tower controller called down and informed the radar controller that he might have to cancel N301D's approach because he had another inbound (N319ME) that had remained faster than he expected, and had also requested to circle to another runway and the controller would need room to do that. The tower controller further stated that N319ME was "flying crazy…", so the radar controller stated that he would just take N301D off the approach and bring him back around for another. 

1929:29 The radar controller cancelled N301D's approach clearance and instructed the pilot to climb to 7,000 ft and fly a heading of 275 degrees for re-sequencing. The pilot acknowledged and then confirmed the turn which the controller amended to 270 degrees. 

1929:56 The last recorded transmission from the accident pilot was a read back of the 270 heading assignment. 

1930:50 After a couple of attempts to contact the accident pilot with no response, the radar controller explained to the local controller that they had just experienced a "power spike" and that he was going to attempt contact via the portable radio in the event the power spike had effected their ground based communication equipment.

1932 LBB requested another aircraft on the frequency to attempt to contact the accident pilot. No response was received. 

1934 The tower controller called the radar controller and advised him there had been a plane crash. 

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was located in a series of large fields lined with fences and dirt paths. The main wreckage was located at latitude 33°32'36.13"N, longitude 101°50'8.10"W, at an elevation of 3,200 ft msl. A path of debris extended southwest from a local news building at 5600 Avenue A, Lubbock, Texas, to the main wreckage; the debris path was on a heading of 040 degrees and was about 800 ft in length. 

On the southeast corner of the news building stood a partially collapsed red and white TV tower, most of which had collapsed on the ground. The tower's guy wires were strewn on the ground near the tower. However, one guy wire was extended toward the main wreckage and remained connected to its base on the ground. The end of the guy wire was found next to the fuselage and exhibited signatures of tension overload. 

Several pieces of airplane debris were found near the base of the tower in the direction of the main wreckage. The left elevator surface was detached and came to rest in the debris path about 400 ft from the main wreckage. The right wing, less its aileron, was right side up in the debris path and located about 260 ft from the main wreckage. A piece of the engine cowling was in the debris path about 185 ft from the main wreckage. The entire left wing was in the debris path about 110 ft from the main wreckage. 

Two parallel sets of power lines ran north-south across the debris path about 50 west of the main wreckage. One wooden power pole was broken near the top and its associated power lines and equipment laid on the ground. Several other power lines were separated in tension overload and laid on the ground in the direction of the main wreckage.

The fuselage came to rest upright on a general heading of west. The cockpit area was opened, twisted and distorted to the left. 

The engine came to rest about 50 ft from the cockpit area to the east. A propeller blade tip separated and exhibited scoring consistent with contact with a metal wire. The propeller nose cone displayed striations consistent with a large gauge wire similar to the downed guy wire. 

Garmin G500 flight displays and a Garmin GTN750 were installed on the airplane. Several SD data cards were found in the Garmin devices and in the wreckage near the cockpit. The installed Garmin systems did not have flight data recording capabilities. 

The postaccident examination determined there was no evidence of structural icing on the airplane and no signs of ice were reported by first responders. 

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION 

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Lubbock County Medical Examiner, Lubbock, TX, on February 5, 2015. The cause of death was multiple blunt force traumatic injuries and the manner of death was ruled an accident. The Bioaeronautical Research Laboratory at the FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute completed a Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report which was negative for tested drugs. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

TV Tower Information

The TV tower, constructed on June 26, 1963 was designated as a "TOWER – Free standing or guyed structure used for communication." The tower was located at latitude 33°32'32.0"N, longitude 101°50'16.0"W and stood 814 ft tall. An FAA study, SW-OE-4136, was issued on January 17, 1963. 

Video 1 summary

A review of surveillance video from a building located 1.5 miles north-northeast of the accident site revealed the airplane's lights moving from right to left. At 1930:29, two of the airplane's lights were observed and the airplane appeared to be in a left descending turn. At 1930:32 the airplane passed behind the tower, after which time the airplane's lights were not seen again. At 1930:34 multiple large flashes of light were observed to the left of the tower. At 1930:52 a final large flash of light is observed to the left of the tower. 

Video 2 Summary

A review of surveillance video from a building located 0.3 miles north-northwest of the accident site revealed that the airplane entered the cameras field of view on the upper right side and proceeded to the left. Two of the airplane's lights were observed and the airplane appeared to be in a left descending turn. The airplane passed behind the tower. Multiple large flashes of lights were observed to the left of the tower. 

Radar Data

Radar data indicated that the accident pilot followed all course and altitude instructions that were provided by ATC without noted deviation. According to audio recordings, the last instruction provided by ATC to the pilot was the approach clearance cancellation and instructions to turn left to a heading of 270 and climb to 7,000 ft. Immediately after the pilot's correct read back acknowledging the controllers instructions, radar data indicated that the accident airplane began a left climbing from of 5,600 ft altitude. It reached an altitude of 5,800 ft, entered a continued left turn through the assigned heading of 270 and then descended rapidly. Radar data revealed only two recorded returns over a 10 second time span after the airplane had reached 5,800 ft. The last recorded radar return indicated an altitude of 5,100 ft at 1930:21. The radar track and accident location were consistent with a rapid continued descending left turn to impact.

Engine Examination

On April 21, 2015, an engine examination was performed at Pratt & Whitney Engine Services, Bridgeport West Virginia, under the auspices of an FAA inspector. The examination revealed that the engine exhibited extensive impact damage. The accessory gearbox was completely separated from the engine. Compressive damage was found on the exhaust case and gas generator case. The engine's compressor showed no evidence of pre-impact damage. Rotational signatures were found on the first stage compressor blades. The compressor turbine and power turbine disks and blades exhibited no evidence of pre-impact damage. Light rotational signatures were found in the compressor and power turbines and debris was found in the gas path. There was no evidence of pre-impact anomalies on the reduction and accessory gearboxes. The examination of the engine revealed no preimpact anomalies which would have precluded the engine from producing rated power prior to the accident.

http://registry.faa.gov/N301D

NTSB Identification: CEN15FA135
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 04, 2015 in Lubbock, TX
Aircraft: PIPER PA46 500TP, registration: N301D
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On February 4, 2015, at 1930 central standard time, a Piper PA46-500TP airplane, N301D, collided with a TV tower guy wire while on approach to Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport (LBB), Lubbock, Texas. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to Deadalus Air LLC, and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a business flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed en route. The flight departed the Cavern City Air Terminal (CNM), Carlsbad, New Mexico and was en route to LBB. 

According to the air traffic control recording, the pilot was executing the RNAV Y instrument approach to runway 35L. The controller vectored the airplane off of the first approach for re-sequencing. While the airplane was being vectored for a second approach, contact with the pilot was lost and the airplane was no longer visible on the radar display. Attempts to contact the pilot were unsuccessful. 

According to a witness who was in the parking lot next to the TV tower, he heard the accident airplane overhead and it sounded like the airplane's engine was operating. He looked up and saw a large flash of light that filled his field of view. He observed the TV tower's red beacon lights turn off and then the tower collapsed on top of itself. He described the weather as cold, very low clouds and no precipitation. 

According to surveillance video which was recorded 1.6 miles northeast of the accident site, the airplane was observed in a 30° nose low descent near the tower. There were multiple bright flashes of light and the airplane was not observed again. 

At 1853, the weather observation for LBB, which was 10 miles north of the accident site, reported wind from 30° at 21 knots gusting to 31 knots, 8 miles visibility, overcast cloud layer at 800 feet, temperature 28° Fahrenheit (F), dew point 25° F, and altimeter 30.24 inches of mercury. Remarks: peak wind from 20° at 34 knots and occasional blowing dust. 

At 1947, the special weather observation for LBB reported wind from 40° at 18 knots gusting to 27 knots, 7 miles visibility, overcast cloud layer at 700 feet, temperature 28° F, dew point 25° F, and altimeter 30.28 inches of mercury. Remarks: peak wind from 30° at 31 knots. 

Prior to the accident, a pilot report (PIREP) was issued for moderate rime ice at 5,200 feet mean sea level (msl) / 1,918 feet above ground level (agl) about 10 miles south of the airport. The pilot acknowledged receipt of this report. 

Lockheed Martin Flight Services had no contact information with the accident airplane on February 4, 2015. 

The wreckage has been retained for further examination.



Dr. Mike Rice 



KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

 LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - KCBD met with a local pilot on Sunday to discuss the newly-obtained audio of Dr. Mike Rice's fatal crash.

“November 01 Delta, approach.”

“East, Local, are you talking to the…”

“Uh yeah… No one can get a hold of him.”

“No, there's been a plane crash.”

That was the final Air Traffic Control transmission from Dr. Mike Rice's last flight. The doctor took off from Carlsbad, NM around 6:30 p.m. Central Time on Feb. 4 for what should have been a 40-minute flight.

Because the Lubbock skies were overcast, he had to fly an instrument approach. At 14,000 feet, Dr. Rice was cleared to descend to 7,000 feet.

Fellow pilot Kevin Glasheen, who flies an aircraft similar to the plane Dr. Rice piloted, believes the real problems happened during that descent.

“We know the tower that he struck is about 800 feet above the ground in of itself, and so Dr. Rice was never cleared to descend that low [and] shouldn't have been that low at that point,” Glasheen said. “From the video, it appears that it was an uncontrolled descent. In other words, from the descent rates, it looks the aircraft was not flying but was falling when it struck the tower.”

In the transmission, you can hear the doctor experiencing difficulty setting up his instruments.

“Actually, I want to do the 35 left R NAV,” Dr. Rice told Air Traffic Control. “I'm just having trouble getting my instruments set up. I may have to circle up here a little bit till I get everything figured out.”

Glasheen said Dr. Rice needed three things to keep his aircraft flying.

“He needs an altitude indicator to keep straight and level,” Glasheen said. “He needs an airspeed indicator to keep it flying fast enough that it won't stall, and he needs an altimeter to tell him how high above the ground he is. Two of those three instruments are vulnerable to ice.”

Dr. Rice experienced another problem when a second pilot was having trouble navigating in the air.

“I'm going to have to resequence you in for traffic just east of the airport trying to land. The weather seems to be giving him a hard time,” Air Traffic Control said.

“Okay. Climb to 7,000 feet and what heading did you want me to fly?”

“November 01 Delta, turn left to a heading of 270.”

“Left 270,” Dr. Rice confirmed.

As he was making his final approach into Lubbock, Air Traffic Control had to change his approach.

“When you add the difficulty of an instrument approach in icing conditions and you're told to abort the approach, and at that time, reconfigure the aircraft [from] a descend-to-land configuration to a climb-out configuration, that means you're going to have to raise the gear back up; take the flaps back out; add power to the aircraft; disconnect the autopilot from the approach; and add power, nose up, and try to get it into a good climb,” Glasheen said.

Glasheen said that he is not sure what ultimately caused Dr. Rice's loss of control, but said the three problems highlighted in the transmissions were big contributing factors.

FULL COVERAGE: http://www.kcbd.com


Story, comments, photo gallery and video:  http://www.kcbd.com



Kevin Glasheen




Springfield-Branson National Airport (KSGF) to debut new space for corporate aircraft

The Springfield-Branson National Airport will hold a 10:30 a.m. Friday ribbon-cutting for its general aviation redevelopment project, which local business leaders hope will be a positive for economic development.

"When Matt and Ryan and the folks here at the chamber bring up an exec to come in to Springfield and hopefully employ a lot of people, there's a very good chance that they're going to have corporate aircraft, and the last thing I want to say is we don't have room for you," Airport Director of Aviation Brian Weiler said Thurdsay. "And we were at that position a year ago."

Since then, the airport has finished making about 12 acres of airport property "development ready" for eight new general aviation airplane hangars.

"Each day business decision makers fly into and out of our community through this facility," Tom Hilmes, chairman of the board of directors for the chamber, said in a news release. "Their ability to easily use that facility and the hangars for corporate airport can affect jobs and business investment for our whole region."

The majority of the $5.6 million project was funded by a $5 million aviation grant from the Missouri Department of Transportation. The department's aviation grants are funded by taxes on aviation fuel sold in the state.

Weiler discussed the ribbon cutting during his annual State of the Airport address, held at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. The airport had previously announced that 2014 was the fourth-busiest year in the 69-year history of the airport, with 846,324 passengers — a 12 percent increase over 2013.

"No number better reflects what's happened this last 12 months than that number right there," Weiler said.

Weiler said there is no other airport in the Midwest region that saw a similar percentage increase; nationally, the increase was 3 percent.

'We broke a lot of industry trends this past year," he said.

The number of airline seats offered out of Springfield increased 5.3 percent in 2014 compared to the year prior. Eighty-nine percent of seats offered for sale out of Springfield sold in 2014, compared to an 85 percent average nationwide.

"This is a reflection of an improving local economy," Weiler said. "We can have the best airport and the best air service in the world, but if you don't have money in your pocket, or you don't have a business reason or some ability to fly, you're not going to go. So I do think it is a positive for the whole region."

Four airlines offer nonstop service to 10 destinations from Springfield — a set of figures that has remained unchanged in recent years. There are eight daily flights to Chicago, two to Denver, five to Atlanta and eight to Dallas. The other destinations are served by Allegiant Airlines, which targets leisure travelers.

As he did at the previous State of the Airport address, Weiler said the most feasible addition in the near future is Charlotte, North Carolina, on American — which would offer better access to the Northeast. The airport's analysis shows the route would make money, he said, but the airport will make decisions based on whether the addition is more profitable than other allocations of its resources.

Weiler also said United is considering a third daily flight between Springfield and Denver. But he also noted that airlines are gradually moving away from the 50-seat airplanes that have traditionally served Springfield in favor of larger ones, which could prompt them to cut the number of daily flights to the airport.

"It's that tradeoff with the flexibility (of more flights) and larger aircraft," he said.

Speaking of the airline industry as a whole, Weiler said that while oil prices plunged at the end of 2014, consumers shouldn't expect lower ticket prices.

"They're taking advantage of this time to reinvest in new equipment that's more efficient, taking care of their employees a little bit better and putting some money in the bank and returning some ... dividends to their shareholders," he said.

"Fares are based on demand, and demand is good right now."

Want to go?

What: Ribbon cutting for general aviation redevelopment project. Mayor Bob Stephens, Joe Carmichael of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission and State Sen. Bob Dixon are expected to speak.

Where: 2525 N. General Aviation Ave., off West Kearney Street

When: 10:30 a.m. Friday

Source:   http://www.news-leader.com


Plane that hit deer at Northumberland County Airport (N79) lands safely at the Williamsport Regional Airport (KIPT), Pennsylvania

ELYSBURG — A pilot of a small plane struck a deer during takeoff at the Northumberland County Airport Wednesday evening. 

Ron Smith, chairman of the Northumberland County Airport Authority, said the pilot stopped at the Elysburg airport to refuel and noticed a deer scampered out onto the runway as he was taking off at about 8:30 p.m.

“He had enough speed that he was able to pick up the plane, but he did hit the deer with the wheel,” said Smith, who did not have the pilot’s full name.

The pilot landed safely at Williamsport Regional Airport in Lycoming County and found there was only a small crack in the fiberglass, Smith said.

How well the deer fared is a mystery.

No trace of the animal has been found near the runway, which is surrounded by woods and located in an agricultural zone.

“It really is a non-event. It’s not common, but it does happen,” said Smith of the deer-plane collision. “We’ve seen deer, and even a bear, nearby.”

He recalled a similar incident about three years ago when a local pilot struck a deer, killing the animal and damaging the plane’s propeller.

Heritage Aviation Manager Jon Trainer, who works at Penn Valley Airport in Selinsgrove, said four-legged wildlife aren’t a problem for the Snyder County facility, but birds pose a risk.
==========

MONTOURSVILLE -- A single-engine private plane landed safely Wednesday night at the Williamsport Regional Airport after hitting a deer as it was taking off from the Northumberland County Airport.

The Piper PA-28 owned and piloted by Carl Jenkins landed about 8:50 p.m. with emergency vehicles standing by at the airport in in Lycoming County. The only apparent damage was a little cut on a wheel cowling, said Jonathan Baker, airport operations and safety director.

Jenkins and a male passenger had left the Williamsport airport earlier in the day, flew to the Penns Valley Airport near Selinsgrove and then to the Northumberland County Airport outside Elysburg, Baker said.

Jenkins said he believes the deer was struck on the back as the plane was taking off, but he does not know if it was injured or killed. Neither Jenkins nor his passenger was injured, Baker said. 

Source: http://www.pennlive.com 

A single-engine aircraft with two people on board landed safely during an emergency landing at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville about 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, according to emergency responders.

It was reported that the aircraft may have struck a deer on the runway when it took off from Selinsgrove.

Firefighters from the airport, the borough, Loyalsock Township and Pennsdale responded to the emergency.

Source: http://www.sungazette.com

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lake LA-250 Renegade, N99HB: Accident occurred March 18, 2015 in Fernandina Beach, Florida

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA161 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Fernandina Beach, FL
Aircraft: LANSHE AEROSPACE LAKE 250, registration: N99HB
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 March 18, 2015, about 1900 eastern daylight time, a Lanshe Aerospace Lake 250, N99HB, operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged while landing at Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport (FHB), Fernandina Beach, Florida. The private pilot was seriously injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight that originated from Georgetown County Airport (GGE), Georgetown, South Carolina, about 1700.

Several witnesses at FHB reported that the airplane performed a go-around during its first approach, which was to runway 4. During the second attempt, the airplane approached runway 13, a 5,152-foot-long asphalt runway. The airplane touched down more than halfway down runway 13 and bounced several times, before coming to rest near the end of the runway.

The pilot reported to a responding law enforcement officer that the airplane encountered windshear.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the landing gear handle was in the "UP" position and the landing gear was retracted. The inspector also noted substantial damage to the lower fuselage.

The recorded weather at an airport located about 14 miles south of the accident site, at 1852, included wind from 360 degrees at 11 knots, gusting to 19 knots.

MANHATTAN MANAGEMENT CORP:   http://registry.faa.gov/N99HB

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. -- Federal authorities are at the Fernandina Beach airport investigating how a small plane slid off the runway during a hard landing on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration tells First Coast News a Lake LA-250 Renegade with one person aboard made a hard landing around 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, slid off the runway and ended up in a grassy area.

The female pilot was reportedly taken to a local medical center with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Fernandina Beach Police Department.

No word on what caused the pilot to lose control.

FAA records show the plane is registered to an company in Wilmington, Delaware.

The FAA is investigating.


Beech 58 Baron, N51FD: Incident occurred March 18, 2015 at East Hampton Airport (KHTO), New York

Regis#: N51FD
Aircraft Make: BEECH
Aircraft Model: 58
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
LEFT MAIN GEAR COLLAPSED ON LANDING. EAST HAMPTON, NY

JJEL LLC:  http://registry.faa.gov/N51FD


A Beech 58 Baron aircraft, made a hard landing at East Hampton Airport at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, according to Jemille Charlton, the airport manager.

There were no injuries reported but the plane was damaged. Mr. Charlton said he doesn't know to what extent the plane was damaged. 

East Hampton Town Police said the pilot is David Bulgin of Sag Harbor.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the aircraft's left main gear collapsed after it landed on Runway 10-28. 

The FAA will investigate the scene Thursday morning, as is standard procedure for hard landings. Mr. Charlton said that if there had been injuries, the FAA would have come out immediately and would have cordoned off the area.

Mr. Charlton said the runway seemed to be in fine condition, but the FAA has to do its investigation and give East Hampton Airport permission to open up once again.

The plane was towed to a hangar on Wednesday night by Keith Grimes Inc. of East Hampton.

The FAA could not comment further on Wednesday.

Story and photo:  http://www.27east.com

Eurocopter AS 350B2 Ecureuil, N250FB: Fatal accident occurred March 18, 2014 in Seattle, Washington

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA137
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, March 18, 2014 in Seattle, WA
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER AS 350 B2, registration: N250FB
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On March 18, 2014, about 0738 Pacific daylight time (PDT), an Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter) AS 350 B2, N250FB, was destroyed when it impacted terrain following takeoff from the KOMO TV Heliport (WN16), Seattle, Washington. The helicopter was registered to, and operated by, Helicopters Incorporated, Cahokia, Illinois, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The commercial pilot and one passenger were fatally injured, and one person, located in a stationary vehicle, was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local repositioning flight, which was originating at the time of the accident. The pilot's intended destination was the Renton Municipal Airport (RNT), Renton, Washington.

The Electronic News Gathering (ENG) equipped helicopter had landed on the KOMO News helipad about 30 minutes prior to the accident. The purpose was to refuel for its repositioning flight to RNT. A witness who was located on the south side of the helipad reported that he observed the helicopter initially lift off of the helipad to about 15 ft, followed by a muffled sound like a car backfiring. The witness opined that after lifting off it immediately pointed nose up, and began rotating counter-clockwise, after which it rotated out of sight. A second witness, who was stationed in a crane a few hundred feet to the northeast of the helipad, reported that he observed the helicopter lift up off of the helipad, turn toward the west, and then shot straight back with its nose up, and out of control. It then nosed down into the street below. The helicopter descended into an occupied automobile near a main street intersection, after which a postimpact fire ensured.

During the investigation, a review of three security camera recordings, which were provided to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) by the Seattle Police Department, revealed that the helicopter initially landed on the helipad, and remained stationary for about 15 minutes. The helicopter lifted off and simultaneously began to rotate counter-clockwise in a near level attitude. The helicopter continued to rotate counter-clockwise for about 180 degrees while it ascended slightly above the elevated helipad, after which it began to ascend further while moving slightly away from the elevated helipad. After the helicopter completed about a 360-degree rotation, the helicopter transitioned to a nose-low (tail-high) attitude while it continued to rotate counter-clockwise. The helicopter rotated counter-clockwise another 180 degrees, and then began to lose altitude while moving rapidly away from the elevated helipad. The helicopter then descended until ground impact.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the helicopter came to rest on its right side, oriented on a magnetic heading of about 050 degrees. A vehicle located east of the main wreckage was fire damaged. Another vehicle, which was located immediately west of the main wreckage and oriented on a southerly heading, exhibited impact damage. All major structural components of the helicopter were located in the immediate area of the main wreckage. Wreckage debris was located within an approximate 340 foot radius to the main wreckage.

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

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Pilot in Command

General

The pilot, age 59, possessed a commercial pilot certificate with a helicopter instrument rating. He also held a helicopter flight instructor certificate with an instrument helicopter rating. His most recent second-class medical certificate was issued on February 6, 2014, with the limitation, "Must wear corrective lenses and possess glasses for near and intermediate vision." The pilot successfully completed his most recent flight review in the accident helicopter on February 8, 2014.

A review of the pilot's personal pilot logbooks revealed that as of February 7, 2014, he had accumulated a total flight time of 6,538.8 hours, all in rotorcraft-helicopters. Additionally, the pilot had accumulated 6,295.5 hours as pilot-in-command, 2,841 hours of instruction given, 1,047 hours in the Airbus AS350-D, and about 8.3 hours in the Airbus AS350-B2 helicopter. Additionally, the pilot had logged 1,122 hours in the Bell 206 helicopter, and a total of 1,096 hours flight time in the Bell 407.

A family member revealed during an interview with NTSB investigators that the pilot worked part time as an ENG pilot on the early morning shift. He would normally awaken between 0300 and 0400, and report for work at 0500, normally Monday thru Friday, but sometimes on weekends if there was a need. He would normally return home from his full time job as an engineer for a local airplane manufacturing company, and predictably go to bed at 2000. The family member said that the pilot was in excellent health, had no sleep disorders, and had performed this schedule for many years. Additionally, the family member opined that the pilot was looking forward to flying full time after retiring from his full time job.

Pilot's ENG Operational Experience

A further review of the pilot's recorded personal logbook entries revealed that he had started ENG flight operations in a Bell 206 on May 30, 2002, accumulating a total of 1,090 hours in this make and model helicopter, prior to transitioning to the Airbus AS350-D model on August 16, 2004. The pilot then operated this make and model helicopter in ENG operations until July 9, 2008, having accumulated a total time of 1,047 hours in the AS350-D.

Prior to concluding ENG flight operations in the AS350-D during July 2008, the pilot received Bell 407 transition training with Bell Helicopters on April 26, 2006. The pilot then flew the Bell 407 on a limited basis from August, 2006 to January 2008, accumulating a total of about 24 hours of flight time during this period. On January 21, 2008, the pilot attended Bell 407 recurrent training, having received 2.5 hours of flight training. The pilot subsequently began flying the Bell 407 helicopter in ENG flight operations on March 24, 2008, with his last flight logged in this make and model helicopter on February 7, 2014. At this time, the pilot had accumulated a total flight time of 1,122 hours in the Bell 407.

Pilot's Airbus AS350 B2 Training

According to Helicopters Incorporated personnel, the accident helicopter arrived at the company's Renton base of operations on January 30, 2014. The helicopter had been ferried from St. Louis, Missouri, to Renton by a part time company Check Airman, and the Renton based pilot who shared flying duties with the accident pilot; this pilot normally flew the afternoon shift, relieving the accident pilot about 1000.

According to training records supplied to the NTSB IIC at the request of Helicopters Incorporated, the pilot began Airbus AS350-B2 training January 31, the day after the helicopter arrived at the Renton base. At this time the Check Airman gave the pilot 0.5 hours of recurrent training. Subsequently, on February 8, the accident pilot received an additional 3.0 hours of flight instruction, which was inclusive of a check ride. The pilot satisfactorily passed the check ride, as well as the Airbus AS350 limitations written test. The pilot next flew the accident helicopter on the day of the accident, March 18, which would have been 39 days after his most recent flight in the helicopter. The last entry in the pilot's personal flight log was dated January 7, which was in the Bell 407 ENG helicopter. There were no other entries to indicate any additional flying activity on that day.

Airbus AS350 B2 Checklists Used During Training

During the postaccident examination of the helicopter, inclusive of the onsite and follow-up layout examinations, the helicopter's checklist was not observed. In several discussions with the Helicopters Incorporated Assistant Director of Operations and the company's Director of Safety, it was frequently stated that the Abbreviated Checklist for the AS350 BA/B2, Revision 1 (an internal document), dated June 30, 2009, which was a two-sided laminated checklist with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Approved Date of August 20, 2009, and signed by an FAA inspector assigned to the St. Louis (STL) Missouri Flight Standards District Office, had been delivered with the helicopter when it arrived at the Renton base. Additionally, the Renton-based pilot (who had ferried the helicopter from St. Louis to Renton with the part-time company Check Airman, when interviewed by the NTSB IIC and asked which checklist would have been in the helicopter at the time of the accident), revealed that it was a two-sided, laminated checklist, and that it had an FAA approved stamp on it.

At the time of the accident, the most current revision to the AS350-B2 Rotorcraft Flight Manual (RFM) was Revision 4, dated the 11th week of year 2010. Revision 3, dated the 21st week of year 2006, contained changes to Paragraph 3 ("Starting") of Section 4.1 ("Operating Procedures") to set the fuel flow control lever (FFCL) to a position between the "OFF" and "FLIGHT" detents in order to achieve a gas generator speed (Ng) of between 67-70% before performing the hydraulic system checks. According to the airframe manufacturer, an Ng of 67-70% will result in a corresponding main rotor speed (Nr) of about 270 rotations per minute (RPM). According to the RFM, 100% Nr on the ground at low pitch is between 375-385 RPM. The previous procedure (Revision 2 and prior) was to set the FFCL to the "FLIGHT" detent, about 100% Ng, resulting in 100% Nr, prior to performing the hydraulic system checks. According to the airframe manufacturer, the change to the starting procedures in the RFM was a result of several events where the helicopter became unintentionally airborne due to the collective stick becoming unlocked during the hydraulic system checks. By performing the hydraulic system checks at 67-70% Ng, the helicopter should not become airborne if the collective stick was not locked, or becomes unlocked during the hydraulic system checks.

According to the airframe manufacturer, six copies of Revision 3 to the RFM were mailed to the operator on May 12, 2010. However, there was no evidence that the previous edition of the checklist, the Abbreviated Checklist dated June 30, 2009, had been revised to reflect the lower Ng setting prior to conducting the hydraulic system checks.

When the part-time Check Airman, who provided the recurrent flight training for the accident pilot was asked during a meeting of parties to the investigation on May 22, 2014, several weeks after his initial statement to the investigative team, which checklist he used during training, the Check Airman stated that he used the procedures that were outlined in Revision 3 of the RFM. Additionally, the Check Airman stated that he had instructed both the accident pilot and the second pilot who shared the local ENG duties with the accident pilot, to use the procedures outlined in Revision 3 of the RFM (Ng of 67-70%). In addition, an FAA inspector revealed that during a conference meeting, the Check Airman also stated that he had instructed the accident pilot to perform the hydraulic checks with the throttle in the Flight Gate position (about 82% Ng). Further, the Check Airman stated that after Revision 3 became active, he notified the operator's Chief Pilot of the change to the Ng setting prior to performing the hydraulic system checks; however, the checklist in use at the time was not revised. The operator opined that the Abbreviated Checklist was neither revised nor removed from their AS350 B2 fleet as a result of an oversight.

When the part time Check Airman, who provided the recurrent flight training for the accident pilot was asked several weeks after his initial statement to the investigative team on May 24, 2014, if he remembered if the Abbreviated Checklist was in the accident helicopter, either during the ferry flight to Renton from St. Louis, or during the training he conducted after he had arrived back to the Renton base following the ferry flight, he said that he could not recall.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

General

The helicopter, an Airbus Helicopters AS350-B2, serial number (S/N) 3669, was equipped with a Turbomeca Arriel 1D1 engine. A review of the maintenance records revealed that the helicopter had accumulated a total time of 7,706.5 hours at the time of the accident. Additionally, the engine, S/N 9849, had accumulated 7,122.9 hours since new, and 538 hours since it last overhaul.

Maintenance

According to the operator, the helicopter was maintained in accordance with the Manufacturer's Inspection Program. On March 13, 2014, at an aircraft total time (ATT) of 7,698.5 hours, the most recent inspection was performed and documented per a Maintenance Log Entry. The inspection revealed the following:

a 30-hour check of the tail rotor blades in accordance with (IAW) Chapter 64-10 of the Eurocopter Airworthiness Limitations Section, Rev. 004, dated June 6, 2013, with no defects noted.
Complied with Eurocopter Alert Service Bulletin 05.00.60, Rev. 0, tail rotor pitch change links check, with no defects noted.
Complied with Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2011-22-05, inspection of tail rotor pitch change links, with no defects noted.
Performed 30-hour engine inspection IAW Turbomeca Arriel 1D1 Maintenance Manual, update #17, dated October 30, 2013, with no defects noted.
Complied with AD 2003-02-05, Sliding Door Rail Inspection, with no defects noted.
Complied with Eurocopter Alert Service Bulletin 05.00.74 Rev. 1, Tail Rotor Pitch Horn Inspection, with no defects noted.
Complied with 100-hour inspection items that have no margin in the Eurocopter Airworthiness Limitations Section 04-20-00, Rev. 4 dated June 6, 2013, with no defects noted. This was accomplished in order to extend the 100-hour inspection by using the 10-hour tolerance.

On March 5, 2014, at an ATT of 7,676.1 hours, the operator complied with FAA Airworthiness Directive (AD) No. 2014-02-05, a recurrent inspection of the clearance between the main rotor collective control lever and the collective locking stud. The AD specifically defined an unsafe condition as the main rotor collective pitch lever (collective) locking stud inadvertently locking in the low pitch position, which could result in a subsequent loss of control of the helicopter. (Refer to the AD, which is appended to the docket for this report.)

On March 29, 2012, at an ATT of 6,548.0 flight hours and a component total time (CTT) of 6,007.0 hours, a tail rotor servo control, S/N 1298, was installed on the accident helicopter. The tail rotor servo control was overhauled on February 21, 2012 by UTAS in Vernon, France.

COMPANY OVERVIEW

The operator of the helicopter, Helicopters Incorporated, was founded in 1978 by a private individual. As of August 14, 2014, it was reported that the company operated more than 70 ENG helicopters in 36 markets nationwide. In calendar year 2013, the company flew over 35,000 hours in support of ENG operations.

The company's organization consists of the following:
Director of Operations
Assistance Director of Operations
Chief Pilot
Director of Maintenance
Director of Safety
ADPM & Security Coordinator

The company's employment base consisted of the following:
Pilots – 149
Maintenance support personnel – 49
Total employees – 285

The company's complement of aircraft/helicopters includes the following:
Bell 206B – 24
Bell 206L3 – 2
Bell 206L4 – 26
Bell 407 – 11
Airbus AS350BA – 3
Airbus AS350B2 – 6
Airbus AS350B3 – 1

Total number of aircraft – 70

AERODROME INFORMATION

WN16 was activated on May 1982. The address of the heliport was 100 4th Avenue North, Seattle, Washington, and was located at coordinates 47 degrees, 37.30 minutes north latitude and 122 degrees, 20.68 minutes west longitude. The estimated elevation above mean sea level (msl) was reported as 363 feet. The height above the street level where the helicopter came to rest was about 85 ft. The operational surface area of the heliport, constructed of concrete, was about 65 feet in diameter. The heliport incorporated edge lighting around its perimeter. It also incorporated sunrise to sunset (SS-SR) lighting, which was pilot controlled. The operator reported that the company has no outlined departure or arrival procedures for the heliport.

GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM (GPS) DATA

The helicopter was equipped with a Garmin GPSMAP 496 battery-powered portable 12-channel GPS receiver. The device included a built-in Jeppesen database, and was capable of receiving XM satellite radio for flight information. The device stored date, route-of-flight, and flight-time information for up to 50 flights. A flight record was triggered when groundspeed exceeded 30 knots and GPS altitude exceeded 250 feet. The log ended when groundspeed dropped below 30 knots for 10 minutes or more. A detailed tracklog, including latitude, longitude, date, time, and GPS altitude information, was stored within the device.

A NTSB Vehicle Recorder Specialist reported the device had sustained impact damage to the screen, housing, and soft-key controls. A surrogate screen was used, and power was applied to the accident device. Recorded waypoint, route, and tracklog data was successfully downloaded from the device via the universal serial bus (USB) port. The data extracted included 44 sessions from March 1, 2014, through March 18, 2014, and consisted of 10,001 total data points. The accident event was identified from the recorded date and time starting at 14:35:46 coordinated universal time (UTC) and ending at 14:39:49 UTC on March 18, 2014, consisting of 6 data points.

Recovered data revealed that the helicopter was at rest on the helipad at 14:39:10 UTC. At 14:39:43 UTC, the helicopter began to move and depart to the right. The final groundspeed and altitude were 12 knots, and 203 ft, respectively. Additionally, data revealed that the flight prior to the accident flight departed from the RNT at 12:35:33 UTC; however, the recording ended just after departing the airport at 12:41:33 UTC. For more information about the GPS receiver, see the NTSB Specialist's Factual Report in the public docket for this accident.

WEIGHT AND BALANCE

The operator reported that the helicopter's maximum gross weight was 4,960 pounds. The operator further reported that at the time of takeoff the helicopter's weight would have been 4,752 pounds. The computed data also revealed that the helicopter was within the center-of-gravity limits.

FUELING

According to the operator, the helicopter would have departed the WN16 with full fuel (about 143 gallons) at the time of departure. Reportedly, the pilot had just landed, and added 75 gallons. The operator reported that normal procedures were for the pilot to have "topped off" the helicopter prior to departure back to their facility at RNT.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 0751 PDT, the automated weather reporting facility at Boeing Field (BFI), which was located about 5 nautical miles (nm) south-southeast of the accident site, reported wind 120 degrees at 4 knots (kts), 6 miles visibility, haze, broken clouds at 1,500 feet, broken clouds at 2,100 feet, overcast clouds at 3,100 feet, temperature 6 degrees C, dew point 3 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.00 inches of mercury.

At 0753 PDT, the automated weather reporting facility at RNT, located about 9 nm southeast of the accident site, reported wind calm, visibility 10 miles, overcast clouds at 4,100 ft, temperature 4 degrees C, dew point 2 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.33 inches of mercury.

At 0737 PDT, the automated weather reporting facility at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), located 9 nm south of the accident site, reported wind 130 degrees at 4 kts, visibility 10 miles, broken clouds at 2,800 feet, overcast clouds at 3,700 feet, temperature 4 degrees C, dew point 1 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.32 inches of mercury.

At 0730 PDT, the automated weather reporting facility at the Snohomish County Airport, also known as Paine Field (PAE), located about 17 nm north of the accident site, reported wind variable at 3 kts, visibility 10 miles, overcast clouds at 1,500 feet, temperature 4 degrees C, dew point 1 degree C, and an altimeter setting of 30.31 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

On the morning of the accident, the NTSB IIC, assisted by the Deputy Regional Chief of the NTSB's Western Pacific Regional Office, and two NTSB Aviation Accident Investigators, as well as two Aviation Safety Inspectors from the FAA, performed an onsite investigation of the helicopter wreckage.

The main wreckage and associated debris was located on a street curb and sidewalk, and in a grassy area just north of the street, about 200 feet distant. The majority of the helicopter's structure was burned or totally consumed by a post-impact fire. The helicopter was observed to have passed through the outer branches of two trees prior to making impact with a parked car. The energy path was generally oriented on a northerly heading, with the tail boom and aft section, half lying out of the fire burn area, on a magnetic heading of about 050 degrees. The angular flight path, when measured from the center of the main wreckage to the first tree strike and the top of the helipad was measured at 30 degrees. The components observed at this location included the helicopter's skids, cabin area, engine, transmission, and rotor blades. All of the dynamic and static components of the helicopter were accounted for at the accident site. The two trees in the immediate area of the accident site exhibited branch strikes from the fuselage, and/or main rotor blades (MRB). Vegetation and the street pavement in the area about 50 feet surrounding the helicopter's at rest location sustained post-impact thermal consumption.

Both landing gear skid tubes were observed to have been broken in multiple locations. The forward and aft cross tubes full lengths were separated from the skids and step. The tail stinger skid exhibited forward skid scratches more pronounced on the right side than the left side.

All three main rotor blades exhibited signatures of powered impact strikes throughout the length of the blades, primarily exhibiting fraying to the outboard 4 to 5 feet, with thermal decomposition to the rest of the blades up to the roots of the rotor hub. The red MRB was observed cut at the sleeve by the salvage recovery team. One of the blade tip balance weights was found 300 feet north of the main wreckage, and one MRB metal tip was found lodged in the driver's side door of a gray pickup truck, which was second in line at the stop light.

The forward section of the tailboom was consumed by postimpact fire damage. The right horizontal stabilizers exhibited impact bending damage and scratches from the outboard to inboard, and down and aft. The vertical stabilizer, ventral, and dorsal fin were impact damaged, with signatures similar to that of pavement scraping on the right side.

The engine output tail rotor drive shaft flange remained bolted to the engine. However, all three flange tangs that attach to the flex couplings were bent and pulled aft and separated at the flex coupling, with torsional splaying observed.

The engine side of the short shaft exhibited the remainder of the flex coupling. Torsional splaying was also observed, with flange tangs bent forward in the direction of the engine.

The tangs were observed to have broken off at the aft side of the short shaft. The splined coupling remained attached to the flex coupling.

The forward splined end of the main tail rotor drive shaft was thermally separated from the remainder of the main tail rotor drive shaft at the forward most hangar support bearing. Two diagonal impact indentations were observed on the shaft between the 3rd and 4th hangar support bearings.

The tail rotor drive shaft fairing also exhibited various impact signatures from the right side through the fairing, in the same location as the indentations on the drive shaft. The coupling at the aft end of the drive shaft to the tail rotor gear box (TRGB) was partially connected, but separated at the tangs on both sides of the flex coupling under tension. The TRGB exhibited impact damage, and was partially attached to the monocoque structure.

The oil cap was not observed. The filler neck exhibited impact scratches; some straw yellow/brown colored oil was observed leaking from the unit. Continuity was confirmed through the tail rotor gear box. The tail rotor blades rotated freely when the drive shaft input was rotated by hand; the rotor shaft was bent slightly. No particles were observed on the chip detector, which was found loose and out of its socket. One of the pitch change links was bent and damaged, with scratches and yellow paint observed (similar to that found on the street curb). The hub was not removed from the rotor shaft; the "woodruff key" was not examined at this time. The yaw load compensator was found broken, thermally damaged, and separated from the helicopter. It was subsequently located in the main wreckage.

One of the tail rotor blade (paddles) exhibited leading edge impact, which destroyed the blade from the blade tip to about 18 inches from the root. The leading edge exhibited a yellow paint transfer on the surface, and had a rough concrete type dimpling similar to that of the street pavement. The accompanying blade was observed more intact, and exhibited a shape closer to its original design; however, it was significantly damaged from impact forces. Both blades were observed broken at the hub, but remained attached to the tail rotor system at the root through the hub. The tail rotor blades were retained for further examination.

Flight control continuity could not be confirmed due to fire and impact damage. Only the right side pilot's controls were installed. The anti-torque pedals, cyclic, and collective controls were observed lying loose in the area of the cockpit wreckage debris; they were thermally damaged and separated from the remainder of the push/pull, or hydraulic control system. The right anti-torque pedal 'foot arm' was bent up slightly. The hydraulic switch on the collective control was thermally destroyed. Flight control continuity was only observed aft of the tail rotor push pull shaft to the TRGB. The flex-ball cable system exhibited heavy thermal and impact damage.

The instruments, the caution-warning annunciator panel, and the 30 Alpha switch button panel were heavily damaged from the impact forces and post-impact fire. Switch positions and instrument readings or condition of the instruments were not available or reliable for readout. The rotor brake, fuel flow control lever, and fuel shutoff quadrant were completely separated from the helicopter, and heavily damaged from the postimpact fire.

The helicopter's fuel system was consumed by fire. The fuel boost pumps were observed loose in the wreckage, with impact and thermal damage.

The transmission was separated from the airframe, and found lying on its right side. It was observed relatively intact and remained attached to the rotor head (mast and hub), which included the Starflex, and the red, blue, and yellow main rotor blades, with their sleeves and spherical thrust bearings attached. Also observed were the three main rotor servos, three pitch change links, and the top half of the control rods. The bottom half of the control rods were consumed by the fire. Two of the Starflex arms were broken with a 45-degree break across their arms; one was observed broken at approximately 90 degrees across the arm. The hydraulic system's tank, pump, and associated lines were consumed by the post-impact fire. The remaining hydraulic system components, including all three MR servos, yaw load compensator/servo, and manifold were removed from the rotor system, and retained by the NTSB for further examination.

The main rotor hub vibration absorber and weight was separated from the top of the rotor head mast in sheer at its attachment bolts.

The engine was partially separated from the airframe, and found lying within the area of the main wreckage. The main rotor drive shaft to the transmission was torsionally broken, and separated approximately three-fourths of the way from the engine.

All of the observed damage, failures, and deformations during the wreckage examination were determined to be a result of the impact forces and post-impact fire. No pre-impact anomalies were noted with the helicopter during the investigation that would have precluded normal operation.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

On March 19, 2014, an autopsy on the pilot was performed at the facility of the King County Medical Examiner's Office, Seattle, Washington. The examination revealed that the cause of death was the result of blunt force injury and thermal charring.

The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on the pilot. The test was negative for carbon monoxide, ethanol, and tested drugs. Testing for cyanide was not performed.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Engine Examination

On March 19th and 20th, 2014, under the supervision of the NTSB IIC, a TurbomecaUSA Accident and Investigation Safety technician performed a field examination of the Turbomeca Arriel 1D1 engine, serial number 9849. The technician reported the following:

The engine as found was still partially connected to the transmission via the liaison tube and gimble. The rear engine mount had been broken away from the engine deck. The engine exhibited external thermal damage from the postcrash fire, as well as impact damage mainly in the area of the exhaust pipe and linking tube.

All fuel, oil, and air pipes were found properly connected and safetied.

The gas generator (module 3) could be rotated by hand. The axial compressor blades showed signs of FOD damage on the leading edges, and one blade was curled forward at the leading edge tip.

The reduction gearbox (module 5) was removed to examine the input pinion slippage mark. The mark was found slipped ˜ 2mm in the tightening direction consistent with the engine providing power at time of a main rotor strike.

Continuity was confirmed through the reduction gear box and could be turned by hand. After removal of the reduction gearbox, the free turbine could be turned freely by hand, however the power shaft still could not be turned.

The engine front support exhibited impact damage. It was removed, revealing the freewheel shaft / power shaft mating flanges. After the front support was removed, the power shaft / freewheel shaft could be turned freely by hand, and proper freewheel operation was confirmed. Continuity was confirmed through the accessory gearbox (module 1).

The engine was subsequently shipped to the Turbomeca-USA facility in Grand Prairie, Texas, for a detailed examination.

On May 21, 2014, under the supervision of the NTSB IIC, a detailed examination of the engine was performed by the Turbomeca-USA Accident and Investigation Safety technician, at the Turbomeca-USA facility in Grand Prairie, Texas. The technician reported the following:

Due to the condition of the engine upon arrival, a test cell run could not be performed.

The initial external examination of the engine revealed extensive impact and thermal damage. Subsequent to the removal of all external accessories, the free turbine (Module 4) was removed and examined. The turbine could be freely rotated by hand. Aluminum splatter could be observed on the leading edge of the turbine blades near the root.

The accessory gearbox (Module 1) was removed from the gas generator. The FCU (fuel control unit) was removed, and continuity through both the N1 and N2 gear train was confirmed. No further disassembly of the module was performed.

The axial compressor (Module 2) was removed from the gas generator (Module 3). The compressor wheel could be turned freely by hand. The axial compressor blades showed numerous signs of FOD damage consistent with the engine continuing to run during and after the accident sequence. No further disassembly of the module was deemed necessary.

The gas generator (Module 3) was completely disassembled and examined. Aluminum splatter was observed on the nozzle guide vanes and turbine blades of both the 1st and 2nd stages. This aluminum splatter was most likely the result of displacement of the air intake bell mouth during the accident sequence into the axial compressor, which was then partially ingested, subsequently melted by the combustion section, and deposited on the stationary and rotating parts in the gas path aft of the combustor. No other noteworthy observations were made in the gas generator.

All indications from both the on-site investigation and the engine teardown examination are that the engine was producing torque prior to and during impact, which was evident by the displacement of the input pinion alignment marks.

No evidence could be found of mechanical anomalies with the engine that would have precluded normal operation.

Computed Tomography (CT) Examination

The retained hydraulic system components were examined using CT scans. The scans revealed the piston liner for the left roll servo control was deformed inward immediately below the piston head, and the yaw load compensator accumulator exhibited signatures of pitting on its internal wall. The scans also revealed evidence consistent with pitting on the inner wall of the yaw load compensator accumulator. Furthermore, the scans revealed the hydraulic pump bearing and pump gears did not exhibit evidence of smearing. The pump's splined shaft was engaged with no evidence of spline tooth shearing.

For additional information on the findings from the CT scans, see the Computed Tomography and Aircraft Systems Specialist's Factual Report in the public docket for this accident.

Hydraulic System Component Examinations

The retained hydraulic system components were shipped to the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (BEA) for disassembly and further examination. On June 23-24, 2014, members of the Airworthiness Group convened at the United Technologies Corporation Aerospace Systems (UTAS), formerly Goodrich Actuation Systems, facilities in Vernon, France, for disassembly and examination of the hydraulic distribution block and the left roll, right roll, fore-aft, and tail rotor servo controls. On June 25-26, 2014, members of the Airworthiness Group convened at Airbus Helicopters facilities in Marignane, France, for disassembly and examination of the yaw load compensator, hydraulic pump, and the accumulator assemblies from the servo controls.

Left Roll Servo Control (S/N 913)

The piston rod extension of the left roll servo control was measured to be about 3.85 inches, and visually did not exhibit bending deformation. The rod end threads exhibited no evidence of thread wear, but did exhibit small nicks consistent with impact damage. The piston rod was removed from the servo control and the piston liner was removed and confirmed to have deformation damage. A tan-colored liquid remnant was observed within the piston housing; the piston housing contained a brown-colored residue on its interior surface. A green- locking pin was visually confirmed to be in the locked position. The locking pin contained small, reddish-tan colored globules. The servo control filter screen contained a wet, black colored residue on its surface. The sliding valve was removed, and colored residue was observed on the central area of the piston surface. The control input exhibited no evidence of gouges, but the surfaces exposed to the hydraulic ports exhibited a residue similar to that found on the filter. The sliding valve sleeve had a clean appearance with no evidence of damage.

The solenoid piston assembly did not exhibit evidence of heat distress, but was sooted on its outer surfaces. Its outer and inner springs were present. The outer spring was measured to be about 0.73 inches in length. An oily, tan-colored residue was observed within the solenoid piston housing. No evidence of blockages was found in the solenoid piston hydraulic port. The valve for the accumulator did not move when pressed. The accumulator was sectioned and the inside contained charred bladder remnants and soot against the accumulator walls. The inner walls of the yaw load compensator accumulator exhibited evidence of surface oxidation.

Right Roll Servo Control (S/N 1381)

The piston rod extension of the right roll servo control was measured to be about 4.21 inches, and visually did not exhibit bending deformation. The piston upper housing rotated about 0.08 inches. Examination of the contact surfaces between the conical lower attachment (the tri-lobe piece) and the piston upper housing exhibited no evidence of fretting or galling. On the piston head, the plastic scraper seal exhibited evidence of melting due to heat exposure. The piston liner remained intact. The filter screen contained a black, soot-like residue but was otherwise clean. The control input locking pin was visually confirmed to be in the locked position. The locking pin contained small, reddish-tan colored globules. The sliding valve was removed and exhibited no evidence of gouges, but the surfaces exposed to the hydraulic ports exhibited a soot-like residue. The sliding valve sleeve was removed and exhibited damage to the outer diameter of the sleeve, but there was no evidence of damage on the sliding valve contact surfaces.

The solenoid assembly exhibited evidence of heat exposure. Residue was observed on the return port of the solenoid valve. The solenoid piston assembly exhibited discoloration of its lower end consistent with heat exposure. Both its outer and inner springs were present. The outer spring was measured to be about 0.59 inches in length. No evidence of blockages was found in the solenoid piston hydraulic port.

The valve for the accumulator did not move when pressed. The accumulator was sectioned and the inside contained charred bladder remnants and soot against the accumulator walls.

Fore-Aft Servo Control (S/N 172)

The valve for the accumulator did not move when pressed. The accumulator was sectioned and the inside contained charred bladder remnants and soot against the accumulator walls. The piston rod extension of the fore-aft servo control was not measured. The piston rod was bent about 4.05 inches from the lower end of the rod. The piston rod surfaces within the servo had a clean appearance. The piston liner had a slight bulge about 2.56 inches from its lower end. The control input locking pin was visually confirmed to be in the locked position. No debris was observed on the locking pin and spring. The filter screen contained a black, soot-like residue but was otherwise clean. The sliding valve was removed, and its surfaces exposed to the hydraulic ports exhibited a soot-like residue, but exhibited no evidence of gouges. The inner diameter of the sliding valve sleeve exhibited no evidence of damage.

The solenoid assembly exhibited evidence of heat exposure. The solenoid piston housing exhibited a tan-color stained appearance. Both its outer and inner springs were present. The outer spring was measured to be about 0.67 inches in length. No evidence of blockages was found in the solenoid piston hydraulic port.

Tail Rotor Servo Control (S/N 1298)

The piston rod extension of the tail rotor servo control was measured to be 7.28 inches. The piston rod and piston liner exhibited evidence of heat distress. A dark-colored band was observed on the piston liner about 3.70 inches from the aft end of the piston liner; the dark-colored band was relatively the same width as the piston head. The locking pin was visually confirmed to be in the locked position. The locking pin, spring, and filter screen exhibited evidence of heat distress. The sliding valve exhibited no evidence of gouges, but exhibited sooting and oxidation products on the surfaces exposed to the hydraulic ports. The sliding valve sleeve was damaged during removal from the servo control.

Yaw Load Compensator

The yaw load compensator exhibited signatures of heat distress. The inner surfaces of the output piston and piston bore, both of which contacts hydraulic fluid, exhibited surface oxidation. The output piston scraper seals were present, but only partially continuous on their circumference. The solenoid was disassembled, and its electrical connections appeared secured. The solenoid piston exhibited no evidence of cracks, but did exhibit signatures of heat distress primarily on its lower surface contacting the hydraulic port. The solenoid piston's outer and inner springs were present, with the outer spring exhibiting heat distress. The outer spring was measured to be about 0.55 inches in length. No evidence of blockages were found in the solenoid piston hydraulic port.

The valve for the accumulator did not move when pressed. The accumulator was sectioned, and the inside contained charred bladder remnants and soot against the accumulator walls. The inner walls of the yaw load compensator accumulator exhibited evidence of surface oxidation.

Hydraulic Distribution Block

The clogging indicator in the hydraulic distribution block was observed popped out, with the button exhibiting heat distress. The pressure regulator cap was observed to be hand tight, with the regulator cap and spring exhibiting heat distress. The filter cap was jammed; a hand saw was used to cut off the filter cap to access the filter. The filter was removed, and appeared to have a soot-like residue, but was otherwise clean of debris.

Hydraulic Pump

The hydraulic pump exhibited signatures of heat distress. The hydraulic pump strainer was sooted, and metallic particles were observed on the side of the strainer that was exposed to a fractured hydraulic port. The chip detector was sooted, and the chip detector remained magnetized. Debris found within the chip detector was not magnetic. The pump gear teeth exhibited no evidence of abnormal wear or fractured gear teeth. The male and female splines for the pulley exhibited signatures of heat distress, but did not exhibit evidence of abnormal spline wear or fractured splines. The pulley, shaft, and gears could not be manually rotated. (Refer to the Airworthiness Group Chairman's Factual Report, which is included in the docket for this report.)

Servo Control Residue

The reddish-tan color globules found on the locking pin spring of the left roll and right roll servo controls were analyzed by an NTSB Materials Laboratory chemist in Washington, D.C. A sample of globules taken from the left servo control was sent to an independent, third-party laboratory for analysis, which found the presence of four aluminum hydroxides and magnesium hydroxide, consistent with corrosion products. (For additional details, see the NTSB Materials Laboratory Factual Report No. 15-012, which is located in the docket for this investigation.)

Collective Locking Device

The collective locking plate is mounted to the central console in the cockpit. The pilot can lower the collective stick, and insert the locking stud on the forward end of the collective stick into the circular cut-out in the locking plate to lock the collective stick. This action is intended to prevent inadvertent collective stick manipulation during the starting checks (for additional information, see the Hydraulic System Checks section of this report). The locking plate is spring-loaded forward, which requires the pilot to physically move the plate aft in order to lock the collective. To disengage, the pilot would have to add a downward force on the collective stick in order to release it from the locking plate. The spring-loaded feature, in addition to a recurrent inspection to ensure proper clearance between the locking stud and the locking plate, is intended to prevent an inadvertent locking of the collective when the collective is bottomed out (moved to the full down position) during flight.

Hydraulic System Checks

The RFM requires hydraulic system checks during the starting procedures (pretakeoff). The hydraulic system checks consists of two separate checks performed in the following order: 1) the hydraulic accumulator check (HYD TEST) and 2) the hydraulic isolation check. The HYD TEST verifies the proper operation of the main rotor accumulators. According to the airframe manufacturer, main rotor control forces will increase above a certain airspeed. In the event of a hydraulic system failure that results in a drop in hydraulic system pressure, the main rotor accumulators provide limited hydraulic assistance to allow for the pilot to reduce airspeed to a point where the main rotor control forces are reduced to an acceptable level for manual control with no hydraulic assistance. The hydraulic isolation check is to verify the proper operation of the main and tail rotor servo control solenoids which serves to depressurize the servo controls in the event of a seizure of a servo control distributor. According to the airframe manufacturer, the collective lever must be locked during both hydraulics checks, as the depressurization of the main rotor servo controls and the depletion of the main rotor accumulator's results in an uncommanded increase in collective pitch, and could result in the helicopter becoming inadvertently airborne.

The hydraulic accumulator check consists of depressing the "HYD TEST" button on the center console, which depressurizes the main and tail rotor servo controls as well as the yaw load compensator. This action results in no hydraulic assistance to the pedals. However, the main rotor accumulators provide backup hydraulic assistance to the cyclic and collective until they become depleted through movement of the cyclic (and/or collective) stick. To avoid reaching the complete depletion of the accumulators, the checklist requires only 2 to 3 movements in the 10 percent range of each axis. Once the check is complete, "HYD TEST" button is depressed again to return the button to its original position.

The hydraulic isolation check consists of setting the hydraulic cut-off switch, mounted on the collective stick, to the "off" position. This action results in the depressurization of the main and tail rotor servo controls as well as the main rotor accumulators, resulting in no hydraulic assistance to the cyclic and collective controls. However, the yaw load compensator remained pressurized and will continue to provide limited hydraulic assistance to the pedals. Once the check is complete, the hydraulic cut-off switch is returned to its original ("on") position.

Activation of one or both switches during the above referenced checks would result in the illumination of the HYD light on the caution warning panel. Additionally, should Nr be below 360 rpm or the hydraulic pressure less than 30 bars, an aural warning horn will sound continuously; the aural warning can be silenced by activating the HORN button on the center console annunciator panel.

Accidents and Incidents Related to the Hydraulic System Checks

The airframe manufacturer stated that between 2000 and 2006, there were five known events which involved the inadvertent unlocking or the pilot's failure to ensure that the collective stick control was properly locked prior to performing the pretakeoff hydraulic checks, which resulted in an inadvertent lift off during the hydraulic system checks. These known events included two that resulted in NTSB investigations (NTSB LAX01LA083 and LAX02TA299). Investigations into these previous events revealed that when the main rotor accumulators were depleted during the hydraulic HYD TEST, the unsecured collective stick raised enough to cause the helicopter to inadvertently lift off. Three events described the helicopter as spinning counterclockwise simultaneous to the lift off. Because the pilots of these events did not have hydraulic assistance to the main and tail rotor controls, the pilots could not regain control of the helicopter, and subsequently the helicopter impacted terrain. All of the known events occurred on the ground and the helicopter did not reach a high altitude prior to descent and ground impact. There were no fatal injuries associated with the five known events.

Due to the accidents and incidents related to the hydraulic system checks, the airframe manufacturer took several actions in an effort to mitigate the risk of becoming unintentionally airborne during the hydraulic system checks. The RFM was modified via Revision 3 to reduce Ng from 82% (FFCL in the flight detent) to 67-70% prior to performing the hydraulic systems checks, which resulted in a lower Nr at the time the hydraulic system checks are performed; reduced Nr would lower the lift that would be produced by the main rotor in the event the collective locking device became unlocked, mitigating the risk of an inadvertent take off. Additionally, an improved collective locking stud was introduced via Service Bulletin No. 67.00.37 (originally released on September 27, 2007) in an effort to mitigate the risk of the locking stud disengaging from the locking plate. The improved collective locking stud incorporated a steel stud with a different shape that also resulted in a higher wear resistance, as excessive wear of the original design collective locking stud was found to be a factor in at least one prior event.

A review of the operator's maintenance records revealed that on July 16, 2008, the following entry was made: "Complied with S.B. 67.00.37 R1, pilot's collective lever lock replacement (Mod 073237). Installed Lock (P/N 350A27-3155-22)."

Simulator Scenarios

On May 22, 2014, several AS350-B2 Hydraulic/Tail Rotor related scenarios were conducted at the Airbus Helicopter's simulator facility in Grand Prairie, Texas. In attendance were members of the FAA, NTSB, BEA, Turbomeca, Helicopters, Inc., and Airbus Helicopters. The purpose of the seven operational scenarios was to attempt to understand what might have precipitated the lift off and counter-clockwise spin that was observed from the security videos.

The simulator used for the demonstrations was a full-motion, Indra AS350 Simulator, certified to FAA Level B standards. Prior to the demonstrations, the investigative team discussed the limitations of the simulator for the purpose of the demonstrations. In summary, the simulator is modeled to a specific level of fidelity based on a specific helicopter within a given flight regime. While the simulator generally reacts the way one would expect when a specific condition or situation is induced, the simulator will not necessarily represent the actual helicopter reaction and performance with that specified level of fidelity when the situation falls outside the flight regime, or conditions to which the simulator is modeled.

A review of the results of the simulator scenarios revealed the following:

With the collective stick not locked down or if it had become unlocked during the pretakeoff Hydraulic Isolation test or Hydraulic Accumulator (HYD) test with the FFCL in either the Ground Idle or Flight Idle positions, the collective pitch control rose rapidly to a point above the full down and locked position. In both instances the helicopter was not observed to have lifted off of the ground. Additionally, relative torque value could not be accurately determined based on the limitations of the simulator.

With respect to a mechanical failure of the tail rotor servo prior to departure due to a slide valve failure, it was the consensus of the group that yaw control can be achieved in this scenario when the emergency procedure is properly applied. Additionally, if a loss of tail rotor control was due to control linkage failure/jammed tail rotor control device (stuck anti-torque pedal), the results of the loss of tail rotor control were varied, and were dependent upon when the failure was initiated, and the reaction time of the pilot. Therefore, no definitive information was available relative to this scenario.

Other hydraulic or flight control related failures, which might prevent the pilot from correcting for the uncommanded left turn/spin were examined in the simulator. As a result, the consensus of the group was that control forces required to maintain control of the AS350 B2 helicopter are manageable in the absence of hydraulic pressure.

For a detailed review of the of the simulator scenarios that were considered during the investigation, refer to the Airbus Helicopters Simulator Summary report in the docket for this accident.

Fuel Examination/Testing

Fuel samples were obtained on the day of the accident from the heliport's fuel facility. The samples were subsequently fuel tested by an independent, third-party laboratory, with a copy of the test report submitted to the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington, D.C., for review by an NTSB chemist. Upon review, the chemist reported that all results were within acceptable specification ranges.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

According to Eurocopter Service Letter No. 1673-67-04, dated April 2, 2005, "Main rotor rotating clockwise: Reminder concerning the YAW axis control for all helicopters in some flight conditions," various events were documented during flight near the ground and at very low speed in light wind conditions on aircraft fitted either with conventional tail rotors or with Fenestrons. (Refer to the above referenced Service Letter, which is appended to the docket for this report.)





SEATTLE -- It's a place.

A spot.

Some lines on a road in the shadow of an icon.

Just a tiny chunk of this world, really.

Tourists walk by... unaware of the place and what it means.

But on this day one year ago, a helicopter lurched and spun... and plummeted to the spot. The tiny chunk exploded with fire and shrapnel. And there was pain and death at the place where there are lines on the road.

Two men died -- a pilot and a cameraman. Gary Pfitzner and Bill Strothman. Two families were gutted. Changed forever.

A few miles away, another place.

A different spot.

A bench under cherry blossoms.

Students walk by. Life happens.

A boy sits and studies, unaware of the bench and its ability to heal.

"I work on campus, so I come quite often after work," said Nora Strothman. "I just sit and kind of be... this is my spot."

Nora Strothman was supposed to grow old with Bill.

"It wasn't just our daily life together," she said. "It was our future together."

She says grieving is hard, unforgiving work.

"I've done everything now without him," she said. "We've done the holidays. The birthdays, I've walked the beaches without him. So I've had a chance to do everything this past year that I would have done with Bill, but I'm learning to do it on my own."

She isn't the only one.

"Wow, we had a pretty amazing father. For quite a long time," said Heidi Strothman.

Heidi Strothman plows ahead without her rock. Her compass.

"You always feel like you have that safety net no matter what you go through in life -- I know I can call poppa if it gets too bad," she said. "And there are plenty of times I did. He helped me with all the major life things. I feel like a lot more that, OK, I gotta handle things on my own now. It's up to me. I have to be a grownup. It kinda makes you feel like a scared little kid again."

Dan Strothman still does what his dad did. He's a photographer at KOMO.

"It is pretty fresh, but also at the same time it feels like it was ages ago," he said.

For Dan, there's a hole where a friendship used to be.

"Every time there's a situation like where there's something we used to share together, and talk about, I still will think... like there was a new Star Wars trailer. I was like, 'Oh, I can't wait to talk to pop about that.' ...like that's still my first thought," Dan Strothman said. "So I think I miss him more as a friend even than as a dad."

And the bench under the cherry blossoms? After the crash, Nora's co-workers at the University of Washington had a fundraiser because they didn't know what else to do. They gave her a wad of cash.

"I was so delighted to find out there was a spot here in the Quad where we could place a bench in his honor," Nora Strothman said. "So we did it. And here it is. And I get to now come and just kind of be here and it's underneath the cherry trees."

His name is on it, and it's perfect.

You see, they met here. They were young together here. She fell in love with him here.

This place... this spot... for these people, is sacred.

And the other place, the tiny chunk where Bill and Gary left us? Here at KOMO, we've learned to live with it. It's a hurt that we see outside our window every day. A pain that we pass when we pull in to work.

On bad days, it won't let us forget the way friends died. But on good days, it helps us remember two good men and the way they lived.

"Sometimes it feels like a lifetime, sometimes it feels like yesterday," Nora Strothman said. "Mostly... yeah, it seems like a year."

Nora and Dan and Heidi visited the crash site today. For Nora, it was the first time. She said she was "taking back Seattle Center" because she and Bill used to love hanging out there.

I should point out that we reached out to Gary Pfitzner's family. They weren't ready to go in front of a camera and talk about Gary, which is perfectly understandable. It's a hard thing to do.

Gary's dad Max did tell me that he thinks about his son every single day, and he said he'll never stop being proud of who Gary was.

Story, video and photo gallery:  http://www.komonews.com




Co-workers at KATU’s sister station remember 2 killed in helicopter crash 


SEATTLE, Wash. – It’s been a year since a TV helicopter crash took the lives of two people working for KATU’s sister station, KOMO, in Seattle.

The station held a moment of silence Wednesday morning to honor videographer Bill Strothman and pilot Gary Pfitzner.

Pfitzner flew the helicopter for KOMO and also worked at Boeing. He was dedicated to flying and put himself through flight school.

Strothman worked at KOMO for more than 30 years. He went to the University of Washington, where there’s now a bench in his honor.

It’s where his daughter Heidi, son, Dan, and wife, Nora, took time this week to talk about their loss.

“He gave us enough. When he was alive, he gave us enough guidance that we can just keep on going,” said Dan. “He’s still here with us.”

Viewers from across the country sent the KOMO team flowers, cards and words of comfort following the crash.

KOMO said it will pass along the messages to the families.

A preliminary report released shortly after the crash by the National Transportation Safety Board said that the helicopter was on the helipad at Fisher Plaza, where KOMO’s TV station operates, for 15 minutes before it took off. Surveillance videos first show the helicopter rotating 360 degrees counterclockwise at takeoff. It was level. Then it took a nose dive. It continued rotating downward until it went out of the cameras’ view.

The helicopter crashed and burst into flames on the street below the KOMO News headquarters across from the Space Needle. A Seattle man was also seriously injured when the helicopter crashed on his car.

Story, video and photo gallery:  http://www.katu.com

http://registry.faa.gov/N250FB

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA137
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, March 18, 2014 in Seattle, WA
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER AS 350 B2, registration: N250FB
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On March 18, 2014, about 0740 Pacific daylight time, a Eurocopter AS 350 B2, N250FB, was destroyed when it impacted terrain following takeoff from the KOMO TV Heliport (WN16), Seattle, Washington. The helicopter was registered to, and operated by Helicopters Inc., Cahokia, Illinois, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The commercial pilot and one passenger were fatally injured and one person, located in a stationary vehicle, was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local repositioning flight that was originating at the time of the accident. The pilot's intended destination was the Renton Municipal Airport (RNT), Renton, Washington. 

Multiple witnesses located adjacent to the accident site reported observing the helicopter lift off from the helipad and begin a counterclockwise rotation. The witnesses stated that the helicopter pitched downward, while continuing the counterclockwise rotation, and descended into an occupied vehicle and terrain near the intersection of 4th Avenue and Broad Street; postimpact fire ensued. 

Preliminary review of three security camera recordings, provided by the Seattle Police Department, revealed that the helicopter initially landed at WN16. The videos depicted the helicopter stationary on the helipad for about 15 minutes prior to takeoff. Further review revealed during the takeoff sequence, the helicopter began rotating counterclockwise and ascending slightly in a near level attitude. The helicopter continued rotating counterclockwise for about 360 degrees of rotation before it pitched forward in a nose low attitude. The helicopter continued the counterclockwise rotation in a nose low attitude until it disappeared from the camera's field of view.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the helicopter came to rest on its right side, oriented on a magnetic heading of about 050 degrees. A vehicle located east of the main wreckage was fire damaged. Another vehicle, located immediately west of the main wreckage was oriented on a southerly heading and exhibited downward crushing of the roof and hatchback structure. All major structural components of the helicopter were located in the immediate area of the main wreckage. Wreckage debris was located within an approximate 340 foot radius to the main wreckage. 

The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination. Various components were retained by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge for further examination.