Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Bell 407, Tennessee Valley Authority, N427TV: Fatal accident occurred July 11, 2016 in Hickory, Graves County, Kentucky

TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY: http://registry.faa.gov/N427TV 

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Louisville FSDO-17

NTSB Identification: ERA16FA248
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, July 11, 2016 in Hickory, KY
Aircraft: BELL HELICOPTER TEXTRON CANADA 407, registration: N427TV
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 July 11, 2016, about 1123 central daylight time, a Bell 407, N427TV, collided with terrain during the approach to landing at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Mayfield Customer Service Center, Hickory, Kentucky. The commercial pilot was fatally injured and the helicopter was substantially damaged by impact forces. The helicopter was registered to and operated by the TVA under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a business flight. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Clarksville, TN (CKV) about 1048.

According to TVA personnel, the pilot flew the helicopter to Clarksville, Tennessee (CKV), refueled, and then flew to the TVA Customer Service Center to board a maintenance lineman for the purpose of inspecting power lines and equipment.

A TVA lineman witnessed the accident, and he reported that there was a light wind from the south/southeast and the helicopter appeared to be making its final approach from the north. The witness stated that there were no abnormalities in sound or position, until the helicopter was approximately 75 to 100 feet above the ground. He observed the main rotor abruptly tilt to the right. Immediately after, the entire helicopter banked to its right and fell to the ground. The witness stated that he never lost sight of the helicopter, described the impact as very hard, with no sliding or bouncing. He saw the rotor blades break apart. The witness then ran into the building to get help.

The pilot, age 58, held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commercial pilot certificate with airplane single engine land, rotorcraft-helicopter, instrument airplane, and instrument helicopter ratings. He held a FAA second-class medical certificate with a restriction to wear corrective lenses. The pilot reported 18,430 total hours of flying experience on his medical certificate application that was dated March 31, 2016.

The helicopter came to rest on its right side, about 220 feet west of the intended landing zone (LZ). The LZ was a level, open, gravel-covered storage area for power transmission equipment. All four main rotor blades separated from the main rotor hub during the impact sequence. The tail boom severed from the fuselage, and the tail rotor hub and blades remained attached to the tail boom. The engine continued to run after the accident, and was subsequently shut down by responding personnel.

The helicopter's fuel system was not compromised and contained about 695 pounds of fuel. All primary structural components of the helicopter were accounted for at the accident site. The engine was controlled by a Full Authority Digital Electronic Control which contained non-volatile memory (NVM) in an Electronic Control Unit. Investigators confirmed that the accident sequence was captured in the NVM.

Aircraft maintenance and personnel records were provided to the investigation team by the TVA. The wreckage was retained for further examination.

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


GRAVES COUNTY, KY - The Kentucky State Police says it has learned the cause of the death of a Tennessee Valley Authority pilot whose helicopter crashed in Graves County last week. 

KSP says Randy Love died after the helicopter crashed. When the crash happened, it wasn't known at first whether the crash killed the pilot or if he died of some other cause. 

The cause of death was positional asphyxiation, KSP says, which means he was trapped in the helicopter in such a way that it cut off his airway. 

Randy Love


We are learning more about a helicopter crash at a Tennessee Valley Authority site in Graves County Monday. The helicopter crashed just north of Route 849. 

The pilot, John Randy Love of Maryville, Tennessee, died in that crash. He was the only one in the helicopter, and a TVA spokesperson says he worked for the company for 17 years. The cause of death is not yet known. A TVA spokesperson says TVA is saddened by the loss.

TVA spokesman Chris Stanley says Love was a very safe pilot, who had gone to the Graves County site to pick up a second person to perform routine flyover inspections on transmission lines.

Stanley says their focus is now on safety and taking care of the family —Love's family and their TVA family.

"Our hearts grieve for the family of Randy Love, because we lost a family member today, and that's something you never want to have happen," Stanley says. 

Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration are traveling to Graves County from Atlanta Monday to investigate the cause of the crash. TVA police will be on site until FAA investigators arrive. The Kentucky State Police is involved in the death investigation. 

People who live near the TVA site say they've watched helicopters land and take off many times over the years, and they were shocked to learn what happened.

"When I hear a helicopter, I'll come out and watch them land," neighbor Barbara Toon says. "I love it."

Toon says she'll walk down her street to watch the helicopters fly in and take off in the distance.

"I heard the helicopter went over, because you always hear them, and then I heard the boom. And I thought he hit a tree or something else," Toon says. 

But she says for some reason she didn't watch the helicopter land Monday. And learning a man lost his life, she says shes glad she didn't see it.

"You just pray nothing like this ever happens," Toon says. 

KSP Sgt. Kyle Nall says, with Post 1 so close to the site, troopers were able to get there quickly. "I was here within two to three minutes of the call coming in," he says.

But he remembers another recent plane crash in our area, and he says events like those are always tragic.

"It's been a lot of unusual events that have occurred in the last year here at Post 1, or in our region, anyway," Nall says. 

Toon says knowing someone she probably saw take off and land at the TVA site before has died breaks her heart. 

"Our prayers are with the family," Toon says. 

A TVA spokesperson said TVA is now helping Love's family, as well as the TVA family

Story and video:  http://www.wpsdlocal6.com

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