Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Hughes 269C, N9277R: Fatal accident occurred August 09, 2016 in Howe, Grayson County, Texas

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Dallas FSDO-05

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA315
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 09, 2016 in Howe, TX
Aircraft: HUGHES 269C, registration: N9277R
Injuries: 1 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 August 9, 2016, at 2035 central daylight time, a Hughes 269C single-engine helicopter, N9277R, impacted terrain following an autorotation near Howe, Texas. The flight instructor sustained fatal injuries, the student pilot sustained serious injuries, and the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was registered to and operated by a private individual as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and a flight plan was not filed. The local flight departed an unknown location at an unknown time.

According to law enforcement personnel who interviewed the student pilot following the accident, the flight instructor and student pilot were flying about 1,100 feet above ground level when they attempted a practice autorotation which included a simulated engine failure, or reducing the throttle to idle power. When the engine power was reduced, the engine lost total power. The flight instructor attempted to restart the engine; however, was unsuccessful. The student pilot stated the autorotation was initially controlled, but then the helicopter impacted the terrain in a high speed descent. During the impact, the tailboom partially separated, and the helicopter rolled over coming to rest on its right side.

Examination of the accident site showed the helicopter impacted down sloping grassy terrain. The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, a portion of the tailboom, and the main rotor system. The landing gear skids were bent up into the fuselage. The instrument panel was partially separated from the fuselage. The right seat anti-torque pedals were separated from the pedal supports. Both the left and right seat bottom panels were crushed downward approximately 4 inches.

At 2035, the North Texas Regional Airport (GYI), Sherman, Texas, located approximately 12 miles northwest of the accident site, reported the wind from 130 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 10 miles, sky clear, temperature 34 degrees Celsius, dew point 18 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.90 inches of mercury.

Federal agencies began their investigation Wednesday into what caused a helicopter to crash Tuesday night in Howe, resulting in the death of one occupant and injuring the second.

The two-person helicopter went down at about 8:30 p.m. in a field near 264 Bennett Road. Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration said in an email the helicopter experienced engine failure, which caused the aircraft to crash. Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board started looking into why the engine failure happened on Wednesday.

“NTSB is investigating and typically we will be working with the FAA, who may be on scene to collect data for us and provide that to us,” Keith Holloway, an NTSB spokesperson, said.

Emergency responders arrived quickly to the scene Tuesday night and transported two men to the Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center. Texas Highway Patrol Staff Sgt. Mark Tackett said one man was a student flyer and the second was instructing. The helicopter was a Hughes 269C, and manufactured in 1979, FAA records indicate.

“The pilot and the instructor were up doing maneuvers and for some reason the helicopter lost power,” Tackett said Tuesday night. “While they were coming down, they were unable to get the power turned back on and the helicopter did crash.”

On Wednesday morning, Tackett identified the instructor as 58-year-old Daniel Katen of Lewisville, who died at the hospital at 6:44 a.m. Matt Cavender, the owner of the aircraft and the second occupant, was transferred to Parkland Hospital in Dallas and was reported in stable condition as of Wednesday morning.

Jeff Leake, who owns the property where the helicopter crashed, said Cavender walked uphill about 200 yards to Leake’s residence and banged on the door. Leake said he never heard the crash, but he saw Cavender was injured and seemed to be in shock. He said Cavender was walking with a limp, and he told Leake that Mr. Katen was pinned underneath the crashed chopper.

“Me and that other pilot we pulled him out from underneath there and we did CPR on him,” Leake said Wednesday afternoon. “I wish he would have made it.”

Leake called 911, and several area emergency responders arrived to the scene.

About two miles away, Kery Burns said he heard the crash, but he didn’t know it was a helicopter until later that night. Burns lives in Howe near U.S. Highway 75.

“I got up off the couch and my dog was barking; she even heard it,” Burns said. “I went outside to look, and I didn’t see it. I thought it was a highway crash.”

Burns said he didn’t see a fire or smoke, and there wasn’t anything too distinct about the sound. A little while later, he said his wife informed him it was a helicopter crash.

“It sounded like a boom,” Burns said. “Almost like a metal boom, like a car crash. It was distant; it wasn’t real obvious.”

Holloway said the goal of the investigation is to find what caused the crash by looking for possible mechanical failures, weather conditions, communications with air traffic control, witness accounts and any structure damage or failures to the aircraft itself. The investigation will also examine the pilots history and flight log books. He said the answer to why the helicopter crashed won’t come right away.

“It usually takes about a couple of days for the on-scene documentation to take place depending on the aircraft and the condition that the aircraft is in,” Holloway said. “Once that has been completed, a preliminary report will be available on our website in about five to 10 days.”

FAA officials said the FAA might examine the wreckage at the crash site, but the NTSB personnel will be present for any further analysis once the aircraft is taken to a secure facility.


HOWE, Texas -- One person has died from injuries sustained in Tuesday's helicopter crash near Howe.

Both were taken to Wilson N. Jones Medical Center in Sherman after the helicopter crashed around 8:35 p.m.

Texas DPS Trooper Mark Tackett said the instructor, Daniel Katen of Lewisville, died at 6:45 a.m. Wednesday due to injuries sustained in the crash.

Troopers said Matt Cavender, 44, of Howe, was flying his 1979 Hughes 269C helicopter when it crashed near Bennet Road. Cavender's passenger and flight trainer was Katen, 58.

Investigators said the men took off from Cavender's home nearby, and cut power at 1,000 feet as part of the training -- but could not restart the aircraft.

"The pilot and the instructor were up doing maneuvers, and for some reason the helicopter lost power and crashed," Tackett said.

Jeff Leake said he lives up the street, about the distance of three football fields from where the accident happened.

"I was up there at my house and all of a sudden someone was knocking on the door," Leake said. "It was the pilot saying, 'Help me, help me, I crashed my helicopter and my friend is stuck down there.' "

Leake said he immediately called 911 and drove down to the crash with the pilot, who he said was injured and bruised.

"I saw his buddy still trapped underneath and the machine was on his arms," Leake said. "I lifted it up, flipped him over, prayed and started doing CPR with the help of the pilot until crews showed up."

The National Transportation Safety Board will take over the investigation when they arrive Wednesday afternoon. Tackett said the cause will not be confirmed until the FAA investigates.

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