Thursday, July 7, 2016

Bell 525 Relentless, Bell Helicopters Textron Inc., N525TA: Fatal accident occurred July 06, 2016 in Italy, Ellis County, Texas

Bell Helicopters Textron Inc:

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Dallas FSDO-05 

NTSB Identification: DCA16FA199
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, July 06, 2016 in Italy, TX
Aircraft: BELL 525, registration: N525TA
Injuries: 2 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 July 6, 2016, about 1148 central daylight time, an experimental Bell 525 helicopter, N525TA, broke up inflight and impacted terrain near Italy, Texas. The two pilots onboard were fatally injured and the helicopter was destroyed. The flight originated from Arlington, Texas, as a developmental flight test and was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

FORT WORTH -- A twin-engine Bell helicopter on a test flight crashed Wednesday morning in southern Ellis County, killing two crew members, the company said in a statement.

The people killed were the only ones on board, said Sgt. Lonny Haschel, Department of Public Safety spokesman.

The Bell Helicopter B525 Relentless crashed around 11:45 a.m. three miles northwest of Italy, Texas, off FM 876 north of Chambers Creek, authorities said. The aircraft was destroyed.

“This is a devastating day for Bell Helicopter,” Bell’s statement said. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of our teammates and have reached out to their families to offer our support.”

The crew members’ names have not been released.

The FAA was investigating at the accident site, and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified, FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.

The FAA and NTSB do not release names of pilots or passengers.

Two farmers told WFAA that they saw the helicopter flying from the northeast when it hit a power line and exploded.

Ellis County Emergency Management tweeted about 1 p.m. that the FAA closed the airspace above the crash.

Bell unveiled the 525 Relentless model in February 2012, saying that the long-range helicopter was designed and built aimed at the commercial market. The helicopter, which could be used to fly workers to offshore oil rigs, can carry up to 20 passengers and has a maximum range of 570 nautical miles.

The aircraft has computer-controlled flight controls known as fly-by-wire that Bell said would make it easier and safer to fly.

On a quarterly earnings call in April, Scott Donnelly, chief executive of Bell’s Rhode Island-based parent Textron, said the company had built two 525 aircrafts for flight testing with a third expected soon.

“The Relentless is meeting or exceeding all of its performance objectives, including having demonstrated a top speed in excess of 200 knots,” Donnelly said on the call. “The effectiveness of 525’s integrated fly-by-wire design has been evident during the testing, by the aircraft’s superior in-flight handling, maneuverability and stability.”

Bell anticipated having the 525 Relentless certified next year and planned to deliver its first aircraft to customers in late 2017. The company has received several dozen orders for Relentless helicopters from customers in China, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Ireland.

Although a pricetag for the commercial helicopter has not been made public, similar-sized helicopters usually cost at least $18 million to $20 million a piece, said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at the Teal Group. Bell has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the Relentless program as it looked to ramp up commercial sales as orders for its military aircraft, such as the V-22 tiltrotor, have slowed.

Aboulafia estimates that, depending on the investigation, the crash could delay the Relentless helicopter’s first delivery anywhere from six months to a year.

“So many of [Bell’s] defense programs are ramping down over the next few years that they’re counting on rejuvenating the civil product line as a way of coping with this downturn,” Aboulafia said. “This crash doesn’t kill the program, but it does delay it.”

Original article can be found here:

Two people are dead after a fiery helicopter crash near Italy Wednesday, Ellis County Emergency Management officials said.

An experimental twin-engine Bell Helicopter 525 Relentless, with two people aboard, crashed about about 11:45 a.m. Wednesday while performing flight test operations, Bell Helicopter said.

The names of those killed in the crash have not been confirmed.

The aircraft came down in a field along Farm-to-Market Road 876 north of Chambers Creek, northwest of Italy, according to Trooper Lonny Haschel with the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Initially, it appeared that the helicopter may have struck a nearby utility pole because the top of the pole is black and appears to have been charred. However, Haschel said Brazos Electric Company investigated and determined the aircraft did not hit the pole. In addition, there was no power outage as a result of the crash.

Most of the helicopter's debris was localized to the crash site, though parts of the helicopter were spotted hundreds of feet away including a section of the helicopter's boom located approximately 1,500 feet to the southeast.

There are two other helicopters landed near the scene, one of which was registered to Fort Worth-based Bell Helicopter who released the following statement after the crash:

On July 6, 2016, a Bell 525 was involved in an accident while conducting developmental flight test operations south of our Xworx facility in Arlington, Texas. Unfortunately, the accident resulted in a loss of two crew members. This is a devastating day for Bell Helicopter. We are deeply saddened by the loss of our teammates and have reached out to their families to offer our support. Bell Helicopter representatives are onsite to assess the situation and provide any assistance to local, state, and federal authorities. At this time we ask for your understanding as we work through all of the details. We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.

The cause of the crash has not yet been determined.

The FAA is en route to the crash site to investigate. The National Transportation Safety Board has been notified.

The crash site is approximately 45 miles south of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Original article can be found here:

ELLIS COUNTY -- Two fatalities have been confirmed in a helicopter crash in Ellis County.

DPS and the Ellis County Sheriff's Office are on the scene of the crash near FM 876 and Bell Branch Road.

Bell Helicopter confirmed two people were killed in the crash just before 12 p.m. on Wednesday. The National Transportation Safety Board said the crash occurred in Chambers Creek, Texas, about nine miles northwest of Corsicana.

The Texas Department of Public Safety says the first 911 call came in at 11:50 a.m.

Bell said in a statement its helicopter was "conducting developmental flight test operations on the Bell 525 at our Xworx facility in Arlington, Texas, that resulted in a helicopter accident."

A Bell spokesperson said there was one "chase" helicopter present as well, which is standard in test flight scenarios. 

No one else was injured.

Lynn Lunsford with the Federal Aviation Administration says the helicopter had two people on board when it crashed at about 11:45 a.m. The helicopter was destroyed, Lunsford said.

Investigators with the FAA are heading to the site, and the National Transportation Safety Board was notified.

Two farmers who witnessed the crash told News 8 they saw the helicopter flying from the northeast and came into contact with a transmission line.

Lonny Haschel with DPS says the helicopter did not strike the line and electricity transmission was unaffected.

An eyewitness who works at a nearby body shop told News 8 he heard two "booms" and saw the helicopter immediately descend.

He asked not to be identified.

"There was nothing the pilot could do," he said.

TXDOT has also placed roadblocks south of the crash site on L.R. Campbell Road

Stephanie Parker with the Ellis County Office of Emergency Management said on Twitter the FAA is closing the airspace above the crash location.

Bell says the 525 first began test flights in 2015. The aircraft is set to be certified for commercial sale in 2017, according to a spokesperson. This is the first crash of a Bell 525.

Original article can be found here:

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