Thursday, August 4, 2016

Schweizer 269C-1, Gulf Coast Helicopters, Inc., N1549W: Fatal accident occurred August 03, 2016 in Jeanerette, Iberia Parish, Louisiana

GULF COAST HELICOPTERS INC: http://registry.faa.gov/N1549W 

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Baton Rouge FSDO-03


NTSB Identification: CEN16FA304
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 03, 2016 in Jenerette, LA
Aircraft: SCHWEIZER 269C 1, registration: N1549W
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 August 3, 2016, about 1047 central daylight time, a Schweizer 269C-1 helicopter, N1549W, was substantially damaged after impacting trees and terrain during a low-altitude cross-country flight near Jeanerette, Louisiana. The pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Gulf Coast Helicopters, Inc.; Pearland, Texas, as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 pipeline patrol flight. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan had not been filed. The helicopter had departed Louisiana Regional Airport (L38), Gonzales, Louisiana, about 0730 and was destined for Harry P. Williams Memorial Airport (KPTN), Patterson, Louisiana.

The helicopter was completing a scheduled bi-weekly patrol of a series of intersecting pipelines. After the helicopter failed to arrive at KPTN the operator became concerned and notified the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). An alert notice (ALNOT) was issued which directed an extensive communication search for the overdue, unreported, or missing aircraft.

Coordination between FAA air traffic control (ATC), the U. S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC), and volunteers from the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), resulted in several volunteer CAP cell phone forensic specialists being able to track cell phone data and determine the general area of the most recent location of the pilot's cell phone. After an extensive airborne search by numerous aircraft, the crashed and partially submerged helicopter was found on the following day in a remote thickly wooded cypress swamp in the Atchafalaya Basin about 15 miles east from Jeanerette, Louisiana.

The closest official weather reporting station was at KPTN, located 17 miles south from the accident location. At 1021 the Automated Surface Observation System at KPTN, reported wind from 060 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 miles, few clouds at 5,000 feet, scattered clouds at 12,000 feet, temperature 24 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 22 degrees C, with an altimeter setting of 30.09 inches of Mercury. Notations indicated the presence of lightning, thundershowers, and rain in the area.

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.






GREAT FALLS -  Casey Clark, a 29-year old man originally from Great Falls, died in a helicopter crash in Louisiana on Wednesday.

Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal said that Clark was a pilot working for Gulf Coast Helicopters and was living in Pearland, Texas.

Ackal says Clark's family in Montana has notified. 

The Sheriff said the wreckage was found in the swamps of the Atchafalaya Basin, south of Baton Rouge, just after 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, about 100 yards from the pipeline that Clark was flying over on Wednesday.

Clark was the only person on board and was doing pipeline inspections, the sheriff said. 

The wreckage was found nose down in the swamp, about 14 nautical miles east-northeast of Jeanerette, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

FAA inspectors are on their way to the crash site, and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified. 

The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation. 

FAA records show the helicopter is registered to Gulf Coast Helicopters, Inc., a private helicopter rental company based in Pearland, Texas.  

A company representative who answered Gulf Coast Helicopter's emergency phone number said the company has no comment.  That representative declined to give his name and position.

The Federal Aviation Administration told KATC News that the helicopter was reported missing at around 4 p.m. Wednesday.  

Clark was flying from Gonzales to Patterson at the time.  


Story and video:  http://www.krtv.com




Sheriff Louis Ackal says that the body of the helicopter pilot has been identified as 29-year-old Casey Clark of Great Falls, Montana. Clark was a pilot working for Gulf Coast Helicopters and was living in Pearland, TX. Ackal says Clark's family, living in Montana, have been notified. 

UPDATE 6:20

Sheriff Louis Ackal says he and the coroner cannot confirm the identity of the helicopter pilot because the body's state.  Ackal says the coroner try to identify the pilot by a tattoo on his arm.  If that fails, the coroner will use dental records to confirm the pilot's identity.

COMPANY BACKGROUND

Gulf Coast Helicopter Inc. claims to have "accident free air services for over 32 years," on its website. 

Our investigative team checked that claim and, aside from yesterday's crash, found only one minor accident in the company's history. In 2000, a small plane owned by the company was substantially damaged when it nosed down during landing at a small airport south of Houston. The pilot was not injured, and investigators found that a gust of wind caused the pilot to overcorrect, lose control of the plane and bounce to a landing on its nose.

The company owns a fleet of 18 small planes and helicopters and has never been sued in Houston federal or local courts, nor has it ever been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

UPDATE: 11:45 

The body of the helicopter pilot has been found, Sheriff Louis Ackal said.

The body was found in the Atchafalaya Basin after the helicopter crashed Wednesday. The wreckage was found just after 9:30 a.m. this morning, and the body was found shortly afterward, the sheriff said. The pilot was the only person on board and was doing pipeline inspections, the sheriff said. 

The victim's identity has not yet been released. Authorities identify him as a 29-year-old male.  

The wreckage was found nose down in the swamp, about 14 nautical miles east north east of Jeanerette, the FAA said Thursday morning. FAA Inspectors are on their way to the crash, and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation. 

The helicopter is owned by Texas-based Gulf Coast Helicopters, Inc.

UPDATE 9:55

According to Sheriff Louis Ackal the helicopter that crashed in the Atchafalaya basin Wednesday was discovered this morning.  Search crews are back out today looking for the pilot.  

UPDATE:

Right now, rescue crews are on the scene of a civilian helicopter crash in Iberia Parish.

According to Sheriff Louis Ackal, the crash happened in the Atchafalaya Basin in the Iberia Parish panhandle.  Ackal says at least one person is in the water.  He says Iberia and St. Mary Parish sheriff's deputies, Wildlife and Fisheries agents, and Coast Guard officials are on the scene searching for wreckage and the people on board the helicopter.  Louisiana State Police is also joining the search, using their helicopter to track heat signatures in the water.

Initially, Sheriff Ackal said the helicopter involved was an Air Force helicopter.  However, FAA records show the helicopter is registered to Gulf Coast Helicopters, Inc., a private helicopter rental company based in Pearland, Texas.  Sheriff Ackal later told us that he was initially told the aircraft was a military helicopter, but he later learned that it was a privately-owned craft.

A company representative who answered Gulf Coast Helicopter's emergency phone number said the company has no comment.  That representative declined to give his name and position.

The Federal Aviation Administration tells KATC that the helicopter was reported missing around 4 p.m. Wednesday.  The helicopter was flying from Gonzales to Patterson when it went missing.  

Capt. Brian Vallier with the Louisiana wing of the Air Force Auxiliary says no civil air patrol personnel were on board the rotorcraft.

Story and video:  http://www.katc.com

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