Thursday, February 18, 2016

Vans RV-7A, BBK Aircraft LLC, N705RP: Accident occurred February 18, 2016 near TavernAero Park Airport (FA81), Monroe County, Florida

NTSB Identification: GAA16LA135 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, February 18, 2016 in Tavernier, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/03/2016
Aircraft: PINKSTON RANDY T RV-7, registration: N705RP
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The private pilot was landing the experimental, amateur-built airplane at a residential airpark. Immediately following the accident, a state trooper interviewed the pilot, who stated that the landing was his first one at the residential airpark and that he thought that the side road was the runway. The pilot reported that there were no mechanical or weather issues as he was attempting to land. The airplane struck three mailboxes, a basketball hoop, phone lines, and a car and then came to rest inverted. 

In a later statement, the pilot reported that, during landing, he noticed a car off the side of the runway on a parallel access road. He was concerned with the proximity of the car to his intended landing area, and he executed a go-around. With dusk approaching, he decided to make an "abbreviated" traffic pattern and "circle back around" to land on the runway. He applied full power, began the turn, and reported that the engine "backfired." The airplane did not climb normally, and as the pilot turned the airplane, it was unable to gain sufficient altitude for the pilot to maintain sight of the runway. Given the pilot's statement, it is likely that he misidentified the parallel access road for the runway and, upon landing, hit multiple obstacles.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's misidentification of a parallel roadway for the runway and the airplane's subsequent collision with numerous objects during landing. 

**This report was modified on September 12, 2016. Please see the docket for this accident to view the original report.**

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On February 18, 2016 about 1815 eastern standard time, an experimental amateur-built Van's RV-7A airplane, N705RP, landed on a roadway and nosed over near the Tavernaero Park Airport (FA81) in Tavernier, Florida. The private pilot sustained no injuries. The airplane was registered to BBK Aircraft LLC, Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, and operated by the pilot as a dusk, visual flight rules personal flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from the Marco Island Airport (MKY) in Marco Island, Florida, about 1745. 

The pilot reported he was conducting an approach to runway 8 when he noticed a car off the side of the runway on a parallel access road. He reported that he was concerned with the proximity of the car to his intended landing area and he executed a go-around. With dusk approaching, he made the decision to make an "abbreviated" traffic pattern and "circle back around" to land on the runway. He applied full power, began the turn, and reported that the engine "backfired." He reported that the airplane was not "climbing normally" and as he made his turn, he was unable to gain sufficient altitude to maintain sight of the runway.

The pilot reported that he circled back to the runway heading and viewed what he believed were the homes along the side of the runway threshold. He reported that the airplane was still unable to climb, but he anticipated that the runway would appear after he had cleared a small block of homes. He further reported that when the runway did not appear, and without the airplane being able to climb, he committed to landing on a road which was two blocks south of and parallel to the runway. During the landing roll, the airline impacted a three mail boxes, a basketball hoop, a couple of residential telephone lines, and a car and then came to rest upside-down in a bush. The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings, the fuselage, the rudder, the firewall, and the engine mounts.

In a written statement to the National Transportation Safety Board, a Florida State Trooper who responded to the scene of the accident reported in part that, about 6:38 pm, he was dispatched to an aircraft crash on Plantation Ave in Tavernier. Upon his arrival, he observed a yellow and white airplane bearing the tail number N705RP upside down in a driveway. He identified the pilot by his pilot license. The pilot was standing by a crowd of people uninjured, and the pilot reported that he had been the only person on the airplane. The trooper reported that he asked the pilot what happened, and the pilot responded ,"This is my first time down here at this landing strip and I thought that the side road (Plantation Ave) was the runway". The pilot further told the trooper that there were no mechanical or weather issues as he was attempting to land. 

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The photographs of the wreckage provided by the Federal Aviation Administration showed that the airplane came to rest upside-down in a bush in a residential area. Both wings and the rudder sustained substantial damage from impact. The airframe and engine were not examined by the National Transportation Safety Board.

BBK AIRCRAFT LLC:   http://registry.faa.gov/N705RP

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Miami FSDO-19

NTSB Identification: GAA16LA135
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, February 18, 2016 in Tavernier, FL
Aircraft: PINKSTON RANDY T RV-7, registration: N705RP
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 February 18, 2016 about 1815 eastern standard time, an experimental amateur-built Van's RV-7A airplane, N705RP, had a partial loss of engine power while doing a go-around at the Tavernaero Park Airport (FA81) in Tavernier, Florida. The private pilot sustained no injuries. The airplane was registered to BBK Aircraft LLC, Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, and operated by the pilot as a dusk, visual flight rules personal flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from the Marco Island Airport (MKY) in Marco Island, Florida, about 1745. 

The pilot reported he was conducting an approach to runway 8 when he noticed a car off the side of the runway on a parallel access road. He reported that he was concerned with the proximity of the car to his intended landing area and he executed a go-around. With dusk approaching, he made the decision to make an "abbreviated" traffic pattern and "circle back around" to land on the runway. He applied full power, began the turn, and reported that the engine "backfired." He reported that the airplane was not "climbing normally" and as he made his turn, he was unable to gain sufficient altitude to maintain sight of the runway.

The pilot reported that he circled back to the runway heading and viewed what he believed were the homes "along the side of the threshold of runway 8." He reported that the airplane was still unable to climb, but anticipated that the runway would appear after he had cleared a small block of homes. He further reported that when the runway did not appear, and without the airplane being able to climb, he committed to landing on a road which was two blocks south of and parallel to runway 8. During the landing roll, the airline impacted a portable basketball hoop and a residential telephone line, and came to rest upside-down in a bush. The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings and the fuselage.


TAVERNIER, Fla. - A small plane crashed Thursday night in a Florida Keys yard while trying to land at a nearby airport.

The crash was reported about 6:40 p.m. in Tavernier.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the Rans RV 7 crashed into a Tavernier subdivision while attempting to land at TavernAero Park Airport.

The pilot, who was the only person on board, wasn't injured in the crash, and there were no reported injuries on the ground. 

Monroe County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Becky Herrin said the plane struck some telephone lines on Plantation Avenue.

Carol Houtzel was at home when the plane crashed into her front yard, damaging her sport utility vehicle parked in the driveway.

"We just all looked at each other like, 'What happened?' And I ran out on the deck and I looked over the edge and there was a tail of a plane in my front yard," Houtzel told Local 10 News reporter Derek Shore.

A neighbor said she saw the plane fly by low to the ground and then circle back, as if the pilot "thought this was the landing strip." She said the wing of the plane clipped a mailbox and a basketball hoop.

Neighbors and first responders helped free the pilot, who was hanging upside down.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Story and video:  http://www.local10.com

A North Carolina man unfamiliar with the Upper Keys crash landed his small plane on a Tavernier street thinking it was the runway Thursday evening.

James B. Chapman, 59, from Denver, N.C., was looking for the landing strip at TavernAero Park, a neighborhood with a small airport off mile marker 90. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Chapman mistook nearby Plantation Avenue for the runway.

He was flying about 15 feet off the ground going east when he descended and struck three mail boxes, a basketball hoop and telephone lines. The Van’s RV-7A single-engine plane then hit a parked car at 114 Plantation Avenue, causing the Chapman’s aircraft to flip over.

Chapman was the only person onboard and did not suffer any injuries.

Bell 206B JetRanger, N80918, privately owned and operated by Genesis Helicopters: Fatal accident occurred February 18, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii

Riley Dobson, 16


The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Honolulu, Hawaii
Rolls Royce; Indianapolis, Indiana
Bell Helicopter; Fort Worth, Texas
Genesis Helicopters; Honolulu, Hawaii

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms 

http://registry.faa.gov/N80918 



Location: Honolulu, HI
Accident Number: WPR16FA072
Date & Time: 02/18/2016, 1020 HST
Registration: N80918
Aircraft: BELL 206B
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Sys/Comp malf/fail (non-power)
Injuries:  1 Fatal, 3 Serious, 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Aerial Observation - Sightseeing 

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On February 18, 2016, about 1020 Hawaii-Aleutian standard time, a Bell 206BIII, N80918, was substantially damaged when it impacted water during a forced landing near Honolulu, Hawaii. The commercial pilot and two passengers sustained serious injuries, one passenger sustained minor injuries, and one passenger was fatally injured. The helicopter was privately owned and operated by Genesis Helicopters as a commercial air tour flight under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company flight plan was filed for the local flight, which originated from Honolulu International Airport (HNL) about 0935.

The pilot reported that, after arriving at work the day of the accident, the helicopter was pulled out of the hangar and that he began his preflight with the company's mechanic's assistant. The pilot stated that they completed "a pretty good preflight," because the flight was the first tour flight since replacement of the tail rotor drive shaft. The pilot further stated that he confirmed fuel quantity and checked other fluids before he retrieved and inspected the life preservers. The pilot then went upstairs to the company's office, met the passengers, showed them the safety video, and stored their belongings.

After he boarded the passengers, whose seat positions were determined by weight and balance calculations, he put the passenger's life preservers on them and secured their seatbelts, the pilot conducted a final walkaround of the helicopter before boarding and starting the engine. After departure, the flight proceeded to fly the Shoreline 6 departure procedure to crossover to the east side of Oahu Island. The pilot then flew along the shoreline before flying toward Sacred Valley, then North Shore before turning south to fly down Central Valley, over Wheeler Army Airfield, and on to Pearl Harbor. The pilot said that, as he began the approach to Ford Island, he noticed a vibration throughout the cabin of the helicopter that seemed "different." He decided to return directly to HNL; however, the vibration stopped, and he made a left turn so the passengers could see the USS Arizona Memorial.

Shortly thereafter, the vibration returned, and the pilot called the air traffic control tower at HNL to advise that the flight would be returning to the airport. The controller instructed the pilot to fly to the prison and hold for other inbound helicopters. The pilot stated that, at this point, the vibration developed into a grinding sensation. Then the main rotor low rpm warning light illuminated, and engine rpm began to rise; the point where the engine and rotor RPM needles were no longer matched on the power turbine gauge. The pilot then lowered the collective, reduced the throttle and realized the engine and main rotor were no longer connected as he began to look for a place to land; he selected the grassy area at the Pearl Harbor Memorial visitor's center. Due to his altitude, he said he tried to increase his sink rate to make the selected landing area and put the helicopter "back in trim to land" before he noticed people disembarking from the USS Arizona Memorial ferry vessel in his selected landing area. To avoid the people, the pilot turned the helicopter slightly left to land in the water as close to shore as possible, with hopes that people would come out to help. He stated that when the helicopter was about 20 ft above the water, it felt like the rotor stalled, the helicopter lost lift, and it "fell out of the sky." The helicopter descended rapidly into the water about 20 ft from the shoreline.

Witnesses located at various locations at the World War II (WWII) Valor in the Pacific National Monument reported seeing the helicopter at a low altitude before it suddenly descended into the water.

A review of video captured by a witness revealed that the helicopter was approaching the Contemplation Circle area of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. The helicopter's forward airspeed appeared to decrease, the nose pitched up, and the helicopter began to rotate to the left in a slightly nose-up attitude then descended rapidly into the water. At the time of impact, the helicopter appeared to be in a slightly nose-high, left bank attitude.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument helicopter ratings. In addition, the pilot held a flight instructor certificate with a rotorcraft-helicopter rating. The pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration second-class medical certificate issued on November 6, 2015, with no limitations. The pilot reported that he was unable to locate his logbook after he was released from the hospital; he estimated that at the time of the accident, he had accumulated about 900 total hours of flight experience, with 151 hours in the accident helicopter make/model and 125 hours within the previous 90 days.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident helicopter was a Bell Helicopter model 206, serial number 2687. The helicopter was powered by a Rolls-Royce Allison model 250-C20B turboshaft engine, serial number CAE-832146, with maximum takeoff and maximum continuous power ratings of 420 shaft horsepower. The helicopter was not equipped with an emergency float system.


Figure 1: Helicopter Seating Diagram 

The helicopter was equipped with 5 seats, two in the front, and 3 in the aft section of the cabin. The helicopter is flown from the front right seat, with passenger seating in the remaining seats as referenced in figure 1.

According to Bell Helicopter Textron (BHT) representative, an integral part of the helicopter's power train system is the engine-to-transmission drive shaft, located between the transmission and freewheeling drive. The drive shaft (as installed) is comprised of two identical couplings, which are located on either end of the shaft. The internal components consist of two flanges positioned on the ends of the tubular, hollow drive shaft. The assembly requires a retainer ring and packing seal to be positioned against the flange. A drive shaft coupling seal is situated against the packing seal, impeding grease from egressing the coupling assembly.


Figure 2: Engine-to-transmission-driveshaft diagram. 

The drive shaft contains a gear sprocket affixed to the shaft flange via 4 bolts (bolt heads positioned on the inside of the coupling). The donut-shaped gear has a hollow area in the middle that aligns with the hollow tube situated between the couplings; a slight lip surrounds the hollow area. The outer coupling gear surrounds the drive gear where it is splined, and torque is transmitted. Inside the coupling, the assembly is equipped with a shaft centering spring. The spring (item 6 in figure 2) is positioned between the lip and the end cap of the coupling (grease retainer plate). A retainer ring and packing seal rest against the back plate.

The BHT maintenance manual recommends that, before reassembly, the engine-to-transmission drive shaft couplings be hand-packed with lubricant (C-015 grease) over the top of the internal spline teeth to a depth of 0.2-0.3 inch.

Maintenance Records


Review of maintenance records provided by the operator revealed the following recent inspections.

Table: Recent Helicopter Inspections

No entries referencing a current annual inspection, current 100-hour inspection, or the recent maintenance on the engine-to-transmission drive shaft were located within the airframe and engine logbooks. The most recent maintenance entry was the replacement of a tail rotor drive shaft segment on February 17, 2016, at an airframe total time of 15,516.5 hours.

Maintenance Interviews

Owner of Genesis Helicopters

The owner of the company held a commercial pilot certificate with a rotorcraft rating and a mechanic certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings. He reported that the accident pilot was present during maintenance of the engine-to-transmission drive shaft to observe and pass tools to the mechanics assistant. The owner stated that he witnessed the initial buildup of the shaft, then left the hangar for about an hour to an hour and a half. When he returned, the mechanics assistant had already begun installing the shaft into the helicopter. The owner recalled asking specific questions about the bolts going into the shaft, to include if there was friction on the nuts, to which the assistant responded that there was.

The owner recalled that the helicopter was grounded on January 23 because the rubber seal (which is located at the base of the short shaft) had come apart, and remnants were found on the (engine) deck. Replacement parts were ordered on January 25, and the helicopter was flying again on January 28. The owner estimated that the helicopter had flown 31 hours from the time the seals on the short shaft were replaced to the time of the accident.

When the owner was questioned about the timeframe of the maintenance performed on the short shaft and presented with the helicopter logbooks, he responded that he "can't find them in the logs" and that it "must not have gotten put in the logbooks." When asked what manual was utilized to conduct the maintenance on the short shaft seal, the owner stated that they used the maintenance manual from Bell Helicopters.

When asked how often maintenance looked at the helicopter, the owner stated that there was a daily inspection and he was personally "laying eyes on it every night." After the last flight of the day, the helicopter would be parked outside and looked at before being placed in the hangar for the night. He said the inspection would included checking the security and mounting, checking all the fluids, and visually inspecting the rotor head, lights and seatbelts. He would also examine the grips, bolts, doublers, and the tail rotor and gearbox security and mounting. When asked if he ever looked in the area of the engine-to-transmission drive shaft, he stated that he was supposed to, but when asked if he recalled doing it, he paused before stating, "I think the last time that I laid eyes on the short shaft, trying to think back, probably 3 or 4 days before the accident. There was a span prior to [February] 18th that we hadn't been flying. We were waiting on parts for the tail rotor."

The owner further reported that inspections and airworthiness directives (ADs) were not reviewed on a daily basis. The 100-hour inspection information would have been written in the manual, but there would not have been anything like a countdown to an inspection. He stated that a status sheet for inspections or AD compliance was not kept in the helicopter.

When asked how pilots ensured compliance with maintenance requirements, he said they had to rely on maintenance personnel to tell them that something was due or close to being due. He said sometimes the pilots would take initiative and see in the front of the book that a 100-hour inspection had been completed. He said that if the pilot saw something unsafe or observed a maintenance issue, then they could cancel the trip on their own without his approval. He said that people who wanted to come work for him knew that he would never push them to fly.

The owner provided a component status sheet on February 21, 2016. There were several items that indicated negative time remaining before an inspection was due. Several of these items were annotated with check marks; the owner indicated that these inspections had been completed, but the sheet had not yet been updated. When asked about the negative-time items that were not checked, he replied that the engine installed in the helicopter at the time of the accident was a loaner engine and that the compressor and turbine listed on the component sheet were not even in the aircraft. Those components "had gone to the shop to get all that stuff up to date."

When asked about the inspections of the main rotor mast assembly and the tension torsion (TT) straps, which were overdue according to the status sheet, the owner replied that the tail rotor blade had been inspected and the TT straps had not been inspected. He said the overhaul was coming up and that they were in the process of ordering parts. His intention was to take the helicopter out of service for maintenance, which would have included the TT straps. When asked if he knew they were due at the time of the accident, he stated that he knew they were coming due, but did not know that the helicopter had flown that extensively, and did not know they were due until he printed the status sheet for the investigation.

Pilot

During an in-person interview with the pilot, he was asked to describe the last few maintenance issues experienced with the helicopter. The pilot recalled a vibration with the tail rotor drive shaft, which had been fixed. In addition, he recalled the helicopter going through either a 50-hour or 100-hour inspection around January 15, 2016, at which time all the panels were removed, the insides were scrubbed, and all bearings were re-greased. He said everything that had a grease nozzle or tip received grease. He recalled one of the hanger bearings on the tail rotor drive shaft had loosened, which was found on the 100-hour inspection. When asked about the engine-to-transmission shaft, he recalled the short shaft seal failing and its subsequent replacement, but he could not recall the date of the replacement. He said the rubber boot from the short shaft had unseated and grease had slung around inside the panel. He recalled that the owner called him on a Saturday to inform him that flying for Monday had been cancelled so the boot could be replaced.

The pilot stated that he was present when the work was being done on the short shaft seal and that the owner of the company was teaching the maintenance assistant how to press the seals. While the work was being done, the owner was quizzing the maintenance assistant. He remembered the owner and assistant referring to the maintenance manuals. Toward the end of January, he watched the owner grease the engine-to-transmission drive shaft and saw the splines on the gear when the work was being accomplished.

Mechanic's Assistant

The mechanics assistant, who had been employed with Genesis Helicopters for 8-9 years, did not hold a Mechanics Certificate with airframe or powerplant ratings. He reported that the "short shaft" had been removed due to leaking grease on January 25. Once they had received the new parts and the short shaft was removed, stripped down, and cleaned, the owner of the company inspected everything before reassembly. The assistant stated that, during the reassembly, one half of the engine-to-transmission drive shaft was put back together, followed by the other half. Once the work was completed, they conducted an engine run-up, a leak check, and a test flight before returning the helicopter to service. The assistant recalled that, during the installation of the short shaft, the accident pilot was present. Although the owner of the company was not present the entire time, he was checking the process and quizzed him on the parts and the type of grease used, and he was present to verify that the proper amount of grease was used before installing the shaft. The assistant further reported that he had re-used the same nuts, bolts, and washers to reassemble and reinstalled the short shaft.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

A review of recorded data from the HNL automated weather observation station, located about 3 miles southeast of the accident site, revealed the conditions at 0953 included wind from 050° at 12 knots with gusts to 18 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, few clouds at 3,200 ft, scattered clouds at 4,100 ft, temperature 26°C, dew point 13°C, and an altimeter setting of 30.13 inches of mercury.



WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Examination of the accident site revealed that the helicopter was submerged about 40 ft under water about 20 ft from the shoreline. The helicopter was removed from the water the day following the accident and was subsequently rinsed with fresh water. The wreckage was moved to a secure location for further examination.

Examination of the recovered wreckage revealed that the main rotor blades, mast, transmission, engine, tailboom, tail rotor gearbox, and tail rotor blades remained attached to their respective mounts. The aft portion of the fuselage under the aft baggage compartment and behind the aft skid cross tube was compressed upward. The windshield and both lower bubble windows were impact damaged and mostly separated. The forward right doorpost was fractured at the upper area of its mount and partially fractured at the lower mount. None of the doors were installed on the helicopter at the time of the accident.

The tail rotor hub and blades exhibited damage from water impact. Both blades were bent away from the tail near the tail rotor hub. Tail rotor drive continuity was established from the tail rotor forward through a torsional fracture in the #3 tail rotor drive segment to the oil cooler blower shaft, the forward short shaft, and the freewheeling shaft. The tail rotor anti-torque pedals on the pilot's side exhibited a fracture of the control tube and the linkages could not be moved. Moving the pitch of the tail rotor blades demonstrated continuity forward via the pitch change control tube to the fractured control tube at the pedals. The tail rotor gearbox was turned by hand with no binding or unusual sounds. The tail rotor gearbox was shifted aft due to impact.

Continuity was observed from the mast through the transmission when the main rotor blades were turned by hand, though the forward end of the engine-to-transmission drive shaft was not rotating properly. The four bolts holding the outer coupling were loose with no torque stripe present. Additionally, two of the four bolts holding the inner coupling were missing. Two sheared bolt heads were located; the remainder of the bolts and nuts were not recovered. When removed, the forward retaining ring was still in place; however, only the center of the retainer plate was found, and the centering spring was fractured/deformed. The outer coupling was missing the three temperature plates. No visible evidence of any grease on the inner/outer coupling was observed. The gear teeth on the inner gear coupling were worn away. The aft inner/outer couplings were still attached and had minor damage. The engine-to-transmission drive shaft was sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for further examination.

The transmission remained attached to the upper deck via 4 of the 5 mounts. When the input shaft was rotated from the engine, a clicking noise was heard. The transmission was removed and shipped to Bell Helicopters for further examination.

No preimpact anomalies were observed with the main rotor assembly. Both main rotor blades were present and had minor damage on one leading edge. The hub assembly appeared unremarkable.

The cyclic moved freely in all quadrants with corresponding pitch movement at the main rotor hub. The collective was moved freely by hand and free pitch change was observed.

Examination of the recovered engine revealed that the engine remained secured within the engine bay with no visible external impact damage noted.

Although the airframe and engine were rinsed with fresh water following recovery from the salt water, visible signs of corrosion were noted on areas of the accessory gear box and scroll area of the engine. Manual rotation of the N1 (gas producer) drive train at the starter generator pad resulted in smooth and continuous rotation to the compressor, confirming drive train continuity. Manual rotation of the N2 (power turbine) drive train at the power take-off pad resulted in smooth and continuous rotation to the stage four turbine wheel, confirming drive train continuity. Visual and tactile examination of all engine pneumatic, fuel, and oil lines revealed no evidence of damage, and all "B" nuts were finger-tight with no evidence of damage or leakage. Engine and airframe interface oil and fuel lines and fittings were undamaged and secure with no evidence of leakage.

The compressor displayed no evidence of impact damage. The compressor rotor blades and vanes, as well as inlet guide vanes, revealed no evidence of foreign object debris damage. The exhaust collector support appeared normal and undamaged. The turbine module was in position and displayed no damage. The outer combustion case was in normal position and displayed no damage. Both the left and right compressor air tubes were undamaged and were properly seated in both their forward and aft ends.

The power turbine governor was in normal position and appeared undamaged. The governor arm was manually rotated from stop to stop. The fuel control was in normal position and appeared undamaged. The throttle arm was manually rotated from stop to stop. The upper chip detector was void of any metal debris.

No evidence of mechanical anomalies was noted that would have precluded normal operation of the engine.

The transmission was examined by the NTSB IIC at Bell Helicopter's facilities in Fort Worth, Texas. The internal transmission components were heavily corroded as a result of the time spent submerged in saltwater. The teeth of each gear were intact and displayed a wear pattern typical of normal operation. No evidence of any preimpact malfunction was observed with the transmission.

SURVIVAL ASPECTS

A witness, who was a Federal Police Officer at the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument, reported that, following the accident, 3- 4 people dove into the water to rescue a 16-year-old passenger trapped inside the helicopter, who was seated in the aft middle seat. The officer reported that he and a Navy diver took turns with a knife, going underwater to cut the straps off the passenger. After about 5- 6 attempts, they were able to bring the passenger to the surface and CPR was immediately administered by nurses and doctors who were visiting the memorial. The officer added that an AED was also used. The officer did not remember if the passenger's life preserver was inflated or not; however, he recalled seeing yellow while underwater. In addition, the officer stated that the life preserver was tangled with the seatbelts, which, coupled with poor underwater visibility, made it difficult to extract the passenger.

Another witness reported that the helicopter was underwater for about 15 minutes before the passenger was extracted from the wreckage.

A registered nurse who assisted in treatment of the passenger reported that he removed an uninflated floatation device during initial treatment.

Review of treatment records for the passenger revealed evidence consistent with drowning and no traumatic injuries to the head or neck.

Examination of the passenger's life preserver revealed that it was an Adult Life Preserver, model BRAVO, manufactured in January 2009 by Eastern Aero Marine, Miami, Florida. The two straps on the back of the vest, which connected to the waist band, were cut. The plastic waist band clasp functioned normally. No visible damage was noted to the inflatable portion of the vest. The carbon dioxide air cartridge used to inflate the vest was found punctured, consistent with it being used to inflate the vest. No inspections were recorded in the periodic maintenance inspection record tag on the vest.

It could not be determined when or how the life preserver was inflated.

Review of the safety video provided by Genesis Helicopters revealed that their staff was responsible for seat belting the passengers into the helicopter. In addition, the video reviewed seatbelt unbuckling procedures and life preserver use instructions. The instructions included how to inflate the vest by either pulling the red tab, which activates the air cartridge, or manually by blowing into the inflation tube. Their instructions stated, "at no time deploy the vest while you are in the helicopter."

Three of the passengers reported that they watched the safety video before boarding the helicopter. The passenger who was seated in the front left seat stated they boarded the helicopter with their life preservers on and, one-by-one, were buckled into place by either the pilot or ground crew. The three passengers all stated that that the seatbelts were difficult to unlatch following the accident sequence.

Examination of the helicopter revealed that all five seats were equipped with 4-point seatbelt restraints, which included 2 shoulder belts and a left and right lap belt. The front left and right seat restraint buckles were equipped with a rotary buckle, which required rotation of the buckle to release the seat belt clasps. The rotary buckle attached to the shoulder restraints and opposing lap belt by sliding the clasp of the respective belt into the respective port on the buckle. The front right seat was intact. The restraints were intact, remained attached to their respective mounts, and the seat belt latch functioned normally. The inertia reel functioned normally. The front right seat exhibited downward compression damage to the seat frame and structure underneath the seat frame.

The front left seat was intact. The restraints were intact, and the seat belt latch functioned normally. The inertia reel functioned normally. The front left seat exhibited downward compression damage of the seat frame and structure underneath the seat frame.

The aft 3 seats were equipped with standard seatbelt buckles, which required one to lift upward on the tab to release the clasps. The shoulder harnesses were connected to the aft seat restraints by two metal connectors, which slid over the clasp before the seatbelt was buckled.

The aft seats were mostly intact. The aft left seat was missing the seat back cushion. The bottom of the seats exhibited an upward bow in the center, consistent with impact damage to the bottom of the fuselage. All three sets of restraints were intact. The shoulder harness inertia reels functioned normally. All of the aft seat belt latches functioned normally. The seat structure on the aft right side was damaged consistent with downward compression.

ORGANIZATIONAL INFORMATION

Company Overview


At the time of the accident, Genesis Helicopters employed 4 people; the owner, the pilot, a receptionist, and a maintenance assistant who performed various duties, including assisting the owner with maintenance, cleaning the helicopter, etc. They operated one helicopter, the accident helicopter, under a Letter of Authorization (LOA) from the FAA to conduct air tours within 25 statute miles of the departure airport.

FAA Oversight Requirements and Interviews

FAA surveillance of all 14 CFR Part 91 and 91 Section 147 air tour operations is outlined in FAA Order 1800.56P, National Flight Standards Work Program Guidelines. The guidance states that FAA inspectors should conduct inspections of 10 percent of all of the air tour operators that have authorizations annually. These inspections may include ramp inspections, spot inspections, review of aircraft records, or airworthiness directive compliance inspections.

The Honolulu Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) had 24 employees assigned to the office at the time of the accident, of which 2 were front line managers (FLM). During the investigation, the two FLMs and the principal maintenance inspector (PMI) assigned to Genesis Helicopters were interviewed.

One FLM stated that, at the time of the accident, each Part 91 LOA had three inspectors assigned for oversight as a certificate management team; a principal operations inspector (POI), a principal avionics inspector (PAI), and a PMI. The FML further stated that the national work program required the HNL FSDO conduct an aircraft records inspection or an aircraft ramp inspection on only 10 percent of the Part 91 LOA holders assigned to their office each year, and POI involvement was not required. Of the 27 LOA holders overseen by the FSDO, only 3 had specific operations that allowed for conducting air tours below 1,500 ft above ground level (agl), which required an annual flight check. The second FLM reported that the HNL FSDO was exceeding the minimum of required inspections according to the data he had recently reviewed.

The PMI reported that he was assigned to the Genesis Helicopters LOA around December 2015 following his on-the-job training (OJT) for ramp inspections and records inspections. The inspector stated that he was qualified for oversight of Part 91.147 LOA holders and was assigned to other operators in addition to Genesis; he was still completing OJT for oversight of Part 135 operators.

When asked how many inspectors comprised the certificate management team for Genesis, he stated that he was the PMI and was unaware of an assigned principal avionics inspector.

The PMI stated that he had not completed a ramp inspection with Genesis Helicopters since he was assigned to them; however, was trying to schedule a visit. He added that, on the morning of the accident, he called the owner to schedule a records inspection but was unable to reach anyone and left a voicemail.

The last recorded ramp or records inspection performed by the FAA on the operator that was conducted on January 3, 2013, on a different aircraft (N110JC) operating under the Genesis LOA at that time.

Owner of Genesis Helicopters

The owner of Genesis Helicopters was asked how often he was visited by representatives from the FAA. The owner replied, "kind of a lot." He added that there was no official POI to his company but that he was visited by the FAA and had a good working relationship with them. When asked when he last received a visit from the FAA, he said it had been "a while," and could not recall a specific date.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

An NTSB Senior Materials Engineer examined the engine-to-transmission drive shaft along with the associated couplings and attachment hardware.

The design of the drive shaft is that each spherical coupling has an external spline profile that meshes with a matching internal spline profile on a corresponding outer coupling. Aluminum alloy cover plates are installed at the forward end of the forward outer coupling and aft end of the aft outer coupling, and springs (compressed upon installation) are placed between each cover plate and the corresponding spherical coupling. The spline couplings are grease-lubricated during assembly.

The spline teeth on the forward (transmission side) spherical coupling were worn down to the bottom landings. Two of the attachment bolts had fractured at the transition from the bolt shank to the bolt head. The forward compression spring and forward cover plate were both fractured into multiple pieces and the spring pieces were deformed from their original shape. A comparison of the spring and cover plate fragments with their respective aft counterparts indicated that only a portion of each item was recovered. The spring and cover plate fragment fracture surfaces were examined visually with the aid of a stereomicroscope and all fractures exhibited features consistent with either overstress or rubbing/smearing due to post-separation damage.

The forward outer coupling had a dark tint consistent with exposure to elevated temperatures, and the temperature plates, which were supposed to be on the forward outer coupling, were missing. The forward end of the forward outer coupling exhibited mechanical damage around the perimeter of the forward opening. The internal spline profile exhibited comparatively minor wear marks near the middle of the spline teeth when compared to the wear on the forward spherical coupling.

Neither the forward spherical coupling nor the forward outer coupling exhibited indications of residual grease lubrication. By comparison, the aft outer coupling and spherical coupling were covered by a lubricant that was brown/black in color and viscous. The aft coupling did not exhibit any notable wear features.

The attachment bolt head fractures were examined in detail and determined to be consistent with cadmium-induced embrittlement of the steel at elevated temperature. The bolts were type NAS 1304-10 and were made of a low alloy steel with a cadmium-plated coating. Both bolt heads were examined using a scanning electron microscope (SEM). The fracture surface had a faceted appearance, consistent with intergranular fracture. Energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) of the fracture surface and a portion of the bolt indicated the presence of oxygen and cadmium in addition to the elements associated with the base metal.

An EDS spectrum indicated of a portion of the bolt revealed the presence of oxygen and cadmium in addition to other elements in the steel bolt. The observations were consistent with cadmium-induced embrittlement of the steel at elevated temperature. The hardness of the sectioned bolt head and of a bolt head from the aft coupling were measured. The results indicated that the forward coupling bolt head had been tempered, consistent with exposure to elevated temperatures.

For more information, see the Materials Laboratory Report within the public docket for this accident.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

FAA Regulations

According to the FAA LOA for Genesis Helicopters, the operator must follow 14 CFR 91.147, and air tour flights for compensation or hire must remain within 25sm of the departure point. The operator must also comply with 14 CFR Part 136, subpart A, which outlines requirements for passenger safety briefings and the use of PFDs.

Genesis Helicopters was also required to comply with 14 CFR 91.409 Section B, which states that no person may operate an aircraft carrying any person (other than a crewmember) for hire unless within the preceding 100 hours of time in service the aircraft has received an annual or 100-hour inspection and been approved for return to service in accordance with 14 CFR Part 43 or has received an inspection for the issuance of an airworthiness certificate in accordance with 14 CFR Part 21.

Title 14 CFR 91.417, Section 1, item 1, which also applied to Genesis Helicopters, states that records of the maintenance, preventive maintenance, and alteration and records of the 100-hour, annual, progressive, and other required or approved inspections, as appropriate, for each aircraft (including the airframe) and each engine, propeller, rotor, and appliance of an aircraft should be maintained. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 35, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Helicopter
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 11/06/2015
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 900 hours (Total, all aircraft), 151 hours (Total, this make and model), 151 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: BELL
Registration: N80918
Model/Series: 206B B
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1979
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 2687
Landing Gear Type: Skid;
Seats:
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 03/22/2014, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3201 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Shaft
Airframe Total Time: 14211.7 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: ALLISON
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: 250-C20B
Registered Owner: Jeffery Gebhard
Rated Power: 420 hp
Operator: Genesis Helicopters
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PHNL, 7 ft msl
Observation Time: 1953 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 166°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 3200 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C / 13°C
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 12 knots/ 18 knots, 50°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.13 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Honolulu, HI (HLN)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Destination: Honolulu, HI (HLN)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0935 HST
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Serious, 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 3 Serious, 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude:  21.366667, -157.940278



NTSB Identification: WPR16FA072
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, February 18, 2016 in Honolulu, HI
Aircraft: BELL 206B, registration: N80918
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 3 Serious, 1 Minor.

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 18, 2016, about 1020 Hawaiian standard time, a Bell 206B, N80918, was substantially damaged when it impacted water during an emergency landing near Honolulu, Hawaii. The helicopter was registered to a private individual and operated by Genesis Helicopters under provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a local air tour flight. The commercial pilot and 2 passengers sustained serious injuries, 1 passenger sustained minor injuries, and 1 passenger was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company flight plan was filed for the local flight. The flight originated from the Honolulu International Airport (HLN), Honolulu, about 0935.

The pilot reported to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge, that while in cruise flight over Ford Island, he felt a vibration followed by a grinding noise. Shortly after, the pilot heard a loud bang, scanned the instrument panel and saw that the engine instruments indicated the engine was still running, however, rotor rpm decreasing. The pilot initiated an auto rotation to a grassy area near Contemplation Circle at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. As the pilot neared his intended landing area, he observed multiple people within the area. The pilot stated he initiated a left pedal turn, attempting to land close to the shoreline. Subsequently, the helicopter descended rapidly into the water, about 20 feet from the shoreline.

Witnesses located at various locations at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument reported observing the helicopter near their location traveling at a low altitude before it suddenly descended into the water.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the helicopter was submerged in about 40 feet of water, about 20 feet from the shoreline. The helicopter was removed from the water the day following the accident and was subsequently rinsed with fresh water. All major structural components of the helicopter were recovered. The wreckage was moved to a secure location for further examination.


HONOLULU — The 16-year-old boy who died following a helicopter crash in Hawaii was a Guelph teen.

Riley Dobson was a horse jumper who competed in several equestrian shows throughout the province. He was a high school student at Centennial Collegiate Vocational Institute in Guelph.

Dobson died at the Pali Momi Medical Centre in Hawaii on Monday after he succumbed to injuries from a tour helicopter that crashed into Pearl Harbor on Thursday.

"So that the 16-year-old's memory lives on, the family has chosen to donate his organs to patients in need," Gidget Ruscetta, chief operating officer at Pali Momi Medical Center, said in a statement.

U.S. navy spokesperson Agnes Tauyan said the helicopter sunk shortly after going down near the visitor centre Thursday.

The family of four visiting from Canada and the pilot on board made it out, but Dobson was trapped underwater and had to be cut free from his seat.

A 45-year-old woman and a 50-year-old man were reported to be hospitalized in stable condition. A fourth family member was treated and released Thursday.

The Upper Grand District School Board issued a statement on Tuesday that said support is available for staff and students affected by Dobson's death through the board's crisis response team made up of guidance counsellors, social workers and youth counsellors.

"We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of one of our students and our hearts go out to the student's family," it read.

No information is available on the pilot, who was also injured and taken to another hospital.

Tourist Shawn Winrich was taking photos of Pearl Harbor when he saw a helicopter "essentially coming straight at us" at the popular tourist destination.

He switched to video, recording the helicopter's dramatic drop into the water below.

"All of a sudden it essentially just fell out of the sky and crash-landed in the water," the Wisconsin man said.

He stopped filming and jumped in to help.

U.S. federal records show the helicopter is registered to Jeffrey Gebhard of Kailua, Hawaii. A man answering the phone at a number listed for Gebhard said: "I'm sorry, there's no comment. There's an investigation going on."

The U.S. navy said the helicopter belongs to helicopter tour company Genesis Aviation. The website for Genesis Helicopters says it was founded by Gebhard.


http://www.thespec.com

A 16-year-old passenger died Monday after being injured last week in a Pearl Harbor helicopter crash, hospital officials said.

The teen and three family members visiting from Canada were aboard a tour helicopter when it crashed into the water near the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center on Thursday.

Their names have not been released.

Two family members remain hospitalized in stable condition. Another was treated and released.

"So that the 16-year-old's memory lives on, the family has chosen to donate his organs to patients in need," Gidget Ruscetta, chief operating officer at Pali Momi Medical Center, said in a statement.

No information was available for the pilot, who was taken to another hospital.

Federal agencies are investigating the crash.

The boy was trapped underwater and had to be cut free from his seat, according to witnesses.

Federal records show the helicopter is registered to Jeffrey Gebhard of Kailua, Hawaii. The Navy said the helicopter reportedly belongs to Genesis Aviation. The website for Genesis Helicopters says it was founded by Gebhard and conducts tours over Oahu.

A call to Gebhard was not answered on Monday. A man who answered at a number listed for him last week declined comment, citing the investigation.

Civilian divers floated the helicopter to the surface Friday and a crane pulled it out. The Navy said the aircraft was taken to Genesis Aviation's hangar at the airport, where the National Transportation Safety Board will conduct an investigation.

It was the second major crash this year involving helicopters on Oahu.

Twelve Hawaii-based Marines were killed when two military helicopters crashed during nighttime training on Jan. 14. Both aircraft were CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters that were part of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463.

Shawn Winrich, visiting from Madison, Wisconsin, was taking photos of Pearl Harbor when he saw the helicopter headed toward the popular tourist destination.

He switched to video, recording the helicopter's dramatic drop into the water.

"All of a sudden it essentially just fell out of the sky and crash-landed in the water," he said last week.

He stopped filming and jumped in to help.

The Honolulu Emergency Services Department took the teen to the hospital in critical condition. On Friday, hospital spokeswoman Kristen Bonilla said the teen was actually 15, but on Monday, she said she was mistaken and he was 16.

http://abcnews.go.com


JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (HawaiiNewsNow) -  Wisconsin-native Shawn Winrich captured video of the Bell 206 tour helicopter plunging into the waters near the USS Arizona Memorial Thursday. In a remarkable coincidence, Winrich tells Hawaii News Now it was the same exact chopper he rode two weeks ago, when he first began his Hawaii vacation. 

"I double checked my video and you could see the numbers there, it laying there in the water and I was like 'wow'," Winrich said.

The stunning realization came when Winrich connected the downed chopper's tail number, N80918, to the same helicopter in a picture he captured before he boarded. In another twist to the story, Winrich said his February 2nd tour was delayed because of a small plane that crash landed in Keehi Lagoon due to engine and landing gear failure.

"We got to the taxi area and we had to halt and wait for clearance from air traffic control," he said.

Winrich said his aerial tour was smooth and breathtaking, but it's still scary to think it could have been him and his wife aboard the downed chopper Thursday.

"A lot of it was thankfulness it wasn't, amazement and surprise," he said.

What started as a relaxing vacation, has suddenly turned into a whirlwind experience.

"I was almost instantly bombarded with phone calls, emails and comments of people trying to reach and get a hold of me," Winrich said.

In 24 hours, Winrich's 11-second YouTube video has gone viral. It's been seen around the world and broadcast by several media outlets. Not to mention, the original video has been viewed over 2.9 million times.

"I thought it had the potential to turn into something big, but I really wasn't expecting quite the attention it's gotten," said Winrich.

But Winrich said the attention is all worth it if his video helps with the investigation.


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



Air traffic controllers captured the moment right before a chopper went down Thursday morning, injuring five people.

A 15-year-old remains in critical condition. Two adults remain in stable condition.

In the recording, the pilot knew they were in trouble and tried to warn the controllers.

Pilot: Tower, Chopper 8, I think I’m going down.
Tower: Chopper 8, roger. Okay chopper, you said (inaudible) of Ford Island, right?
Pilot: (Inaudible)
Tower: Okay Air 1, if you can check next to the Arizona Memorial, please.
Air 1: Arizona Memorial, on my way, ma’am.
Tower: Air 1, we have a report that he’s underwater.

The Hawaii Army National Guard identified him as Ryan Rohner, a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot and warrant officer. He has been with the guard since 1998.

On Friday, crews pulled the helicopter out of the water. Salvage crews attached two inflatable bags underneath the helicopter to help raise it out of about 10 feet of water near the shoreline. It took about an hour to get it out as a crane placed it on a pier at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Officials say it was taken to a hangar where it will be inspected by investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board.

When we asked the NTSB what it’ll be looking for to determine the cause of the crash, a spokesman sent us a statement saying, “NTSB will examine the aircraft to see if there are any mechanical issues that could have either contributed or caused the crash. Maintenance records, the pilot’s records, air traffic communications, if available, and radar data, all will be reviewed.”

As far as life vests, federal guidelines require that each passenger must have one within reach.

Commercial pilot Brad Hayes tells us it’s always better for passengers to wear them throughout the flight. “Most tour operators in Hawaii, to my knowledge, wear the life vest around their waist, but it’s not over their neck. It’s in a little pouch around your waist,” he said.

“They’re wearing them throughout the flight?” KHON2 asked.

“Yes, but the requirement is to have them available,” Hayes said.

“Because it might be hard to put it on if the helicopter goes down fast?” KHON2 asked.

“Yeah, it would be tough,” Hayes said.

Some helicopters are equipped with floats which can prevent the aircraft from sinking. Hayes tells us that’s up to the company if they want to put those on because they are expensive.

Hayes, who has over 5,000 hours of flying time, said the pilot did a really good job of controlling the aircraft and putting it down close to the shoreline and avoiding crashing into the visitor center.

“It looked like it was under control, and the reason why he put it in the water right off of those boulders was that if he tried to keep it going, there was a good chance that the boulders probably would have been worse than the water,” Hayes said.

We went back to Genesis Helicopters, which owns the aircraft, but the office was locked and no one returned our calls. The company posted a message on its website:

Aloha Everyone,

It is with our deepest and sincerest of apologies that due to the tragic event that happened with our helicopter yesterday, we’ll be unable to provide tours/charter services until further notice.

Our utmost thoughts and concern go out to our pilot (his family), our passengers that were onboard that flight, and to all others that were affected by this unfortunate event. We’re absolutely at a lost for words as no words can describe the pain we’re experiencing right now.

Mahalo for your understanding…
The Crew @ Genesis

We also looked at the helicopter’s maintenance records and learned that it was built in 1979, but records did not indicate that the aircraft has had any major problems.

The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center announced it will resume full operations Saturday, which include documentary screenings in the theater and boat trips to the USS Arizona Memorial. The center opens at 7 a.m.

The USS Bowfin Submarine, USS Battleship Missouri Memorial, and Pacific Aviation Museum continue to be open to the public.


Story and video: http://khon2.com

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (HawaiiNewsNow) -  A sightseeing helicopter that crashed into waters just off the Arizona Memorial visitors center has been recovered and is being transported to a Honolulu hangar.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the Thursday morning crash, which critically injured a 15-year-old boy and left two others in serious condition.

About 1 p.m. Friday, civilian divers and military personnel attached inflatable bags to the downed helicopter, and floated it to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. From there, the chopper was to be towed to Honolulu airport.

The chopper had been touring Waimea and was returning to Honolulu when it plunged into the water, to the disbelief of scores of visitors at the center. Five people were on board: the pilot and a family of four visiting from Canada.

The 15-year-old passenger remains in critical condition at Pali Momi Medical Center, a spokeswoman said.

Another family member was taken the Kaiser Moanalua Medical Center in serious condition. The pilot, Ryan Rohner, was also seriously injured and was taken to Tripler Army Medical Center. Two others on the chopper, a 50-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman, were in stable condition at Pali Momi.

Boat trips to the USS Arizona Memorial were canceled Friday, though the visitor center was open.

Rohner is a chief warrant officer two in the Army National Guard, and has years of experience flying helicopters commercially and in the military. 

He was flying a Bell-206B chopper, operated by Genesis Aviation, when it came down about 10:30 a.m., after experiencing a rapid descent that caught the attention of memorial visitors. Several witnesses also said they saw smoke coming from the helicopter's tail shortly before it went down.

After the crash, good Samaritans jumped into the 8-foot waters off the center's esplanade to help the passengers and pilot to shore. Witnesses described a surreal scene as the chopper dropped in the water just feet from groups of people visiting one of Hawaii's most iconic tourist attractions. 

"It was just crazy, unbelievable," said Daniel Rose, who's visiting from Michigan. "I'm just still in awe. It dropped maybe 10 foot off the shore and sank like a rock. I just thank God for the people on the shore who dove in and helped the people get out of the helicopter."

'Thoughts and prayers' to families

Jeff Gebhard owns Genesis Aviation, the company involved in the crash, and told Hawaii News Now on Thursday night that he's been in contact with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.

He added, "I just want to say that our thoughts and our prayers go out to the families that are affected by this tragedy today."

Max Burner, of Redwood City, Calif., said the helicopter was "sputtering" at about 500 feet, before it started quickly losing altitude. "As soon as it hit the water, some people popped out," said Burner, who was among those who jumped into the water to help the passengers to shore.

Witness Roy Gano said his initial reaction when seeing the helicopter was that it was flying a bit low.

"It then hovered for a second and then started to descend," he said. "It was not spinning out of control, but it was dropping at a good rate. It narrowly missed the rocky edge and turned to its side. I saw people dive into the water to help."

Bystanders jumped into action

Australian visitor Amber Moncrieff said she didn't see the chopper go down, but heard two loud bangs that "we thought were gunshots."

"We saw people running, which obviously made us scared," she said.

Those who dove into the water said a knife was needed to free one of the passengers from a seatbelt in the chopper.

Video of the chopper crash, shot by a visitor, quickly went viral. It shows the helicopter plunging into the water just off the Contemplation Circle at the visitors center; in the background, witnesses can be heard shouting in disbelief.

"It came right down and pulled up just short of land," said visitor George Tizedes. "Everybody started running over there."

Chris Gardner was among those who jumped into the water. The part-time Keawe Adventures employee was still a bit shaken mid-day Thursday, after washing aviation fuel from his eyes and face.

"I heard the helicopter auto-rotate, which means the engine went out and then people started running and screaming," he said.

By the time he got there, everyone was out of the helicopter except the 15-year-old. Gardner said the boy was stuck in a seatbelt, and so he and a handful of other good Samaritans took turns using a knife to cut away the belt.

"I came up for a breath and then went down, and then we were bringing him up," he said.

Tour company owner: 'It's just tragic'

Gebhard, of Genesis Aviation, said he was in Waikiki picking up another set of passenger when he got a phone call about the crash.

"Obviously it's something no one ever wants to see," he said. "It's just tragic. That's all I can say."

Gebhard said the family of four -- a father, mother, and two sons -- along with his pilot, were on their way back from a tour around Waimea. He said they were on the last part of the tour when the chopper slammed into the water. Gebhard said he believes his pilot was trying to land on land.

"Once you enter the water, then it's a whole new set of problems because egress from the water is much more difficult than on land," Gebhard said.

Gebhard said he tried to visit the victims at the hospital, but was unable to get in. He added that his pilot has years of experience and even flew in the Army.

It's unclear when the chopper wreckage will be salvaged.




HONOLULU (KHON2) — A 15-year-old boy is in critical condition after a civilian helicopter crashed into waters near the USS Arizona Memorial Thursday.

According to the U.S. Navy, it happened at about 10:30 a.m. in the area near the Ford Island bridge and the National Park Service Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

Five people were on board at the time.

Witnesses tell us they saw the chopper when it was about 30 yards offshore and knew right away that something was terribly wrong.

“It kept sputtering, very erratic flying, probably 20 yards from shore, maybe 30 feet up, looks like he cut the prop, because the helicopter dropped down and hit the water probably 20 yards offshore, sat there for about 20 seconds bobbing, then it went under,” said witness Daniel Rose. “Guys started going in the water, diving down. Two people came up.”

Shawn Winrich was enjoying the day and using his phone to take photos of the harbor when he noticed the aircraft. “It seemed out of place and not normal, so I switched to video real quick and shot the video clip,” he told KHON2. “I didn’t see parts flying. It wasn’t a real hard impact. There wasn’t an explosion. I remember thinking split-second, I’m behind a concrete barricade wall about knee-high, and I was just about ready to duck if I seen anything flying.”

The helicopter’s proximity to shore meant bystanders could jump in and rescue the passengers within minutes. North Shore resident Chris Gardner was one of them.

“Someone said there’s somebody still in the aircraft, so I dove through from the pilot’s side and the back seat and saw him, and saw the seat was twisted, so it’s just instinct at this point,” he said. “I jumped in and tried to extract him and one of the Navy policemen, Brian, had a knife, and we took turns cutting on the seat belt and finally got him out.”

“I ended the video real quick because I was going to run over. I jumped the wall and ran over to the helicopter, got everything out of my pockets, and was just about to jump in, and there were a bunch of people jumping in to help,” Winrich said.

Witnesses say without the help of those bystanders the scenario could have turned out much worse.

“It was just a few feet out into the water, so maybe 20 feet out from the actual rock shore, so real close, luckily,” Winrich said. “I hope the pilot planned that intentionally. If not, he just got lucky it was in that area, probably the best place because it was real close, easy access to a bunch of people to help if anything happens.”

Honolulu Emergency Medical Services treated a total of three patients, including the boy. A 50-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman were treated and transported to the hospital in stable condition.

Gidget Ruscetta, chief operating officer at Pali Momi Medical Center, released the following statement:

Earlier today, a helicopter crashed near the Arizona Memorial with five individuals on board, including a family of four. Three of the family members involved were brought to Pali Momi Medical Center for treatment. Two are in stable condition and one is in critical condition. A fourth family member was treated at another area hospital and released. The family does not wish to speak to the media at this time. Out of courtesy and respect for their request, we will not be providing any additional information.

The other two patients were treated and transported by the Federal Fire Department’s medical crews on their ambulances.

Operations at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, including visits to the USS Arizona Memorial have been suspended until further notice. No new visitors are being admitted and all boat rides have been canceled.

How did this happen? Investigation underway

The Federal Fire Department and security personnel immediately secured the area. We’re told the helicopter will be towed out of the water Friday.

The FAA issued a statement that the helicopter involved in the crash is a Bell 206 helicopter. FAA investigators are on their way and the NTSB has been notified.

The helicopter belonged to Genesis Helicopters, and appeared to be on a tour over Pearl Harbor. The company has been around since 1999.

According to NTSB records, neither the company nor the helicopter have been involved in any past accidents.

The helicopter can fit up to five people and specializes in “doors-off” tours, which claim to offer better viewing and photo opportunities.

We went to the the company’s office twice Thursday, but no one would talk to us.

According to Genesis Helicopter’s website, it offers two tours, one that goes around Oahu and a shorter tour that only covers the south shore. Both tours include flyovers over Pearl Harbor.

The FAA says the National Transportation Safety Board is leading an open-crash investigation to look into whether the tour helicopter was following rules and regulations before the crash.

When something goes wrong, aviation analyst Peter Forman says a pilot doesn’t have much time to react.

“Typically, at the altitude that helicopters cruise at, he has less than a minute to put that thing on the ground, so he was a very busy guy,” Forman said.

FAA guidelines say tour helicopters must stay at 1,000 feet or below when entering Honolulu airspace.

“If there is a power failure, all helicopter pilots are taught to auto rotate,” Forman said.

Auto rotation allows wind to flow through a helicopter’s blades, creating enough power for the pilot to move the helicopter to a safe place on the ground.

“(The pilot appears to be) looking for the place to bring the helicopter down. He’s coming down at a fairly good angle, he didn’t have a lot of choices at that point,” Forman said.

A pilot who personally knows the pilot flying the downed chopper says he believes the helicopter suffered some sort of mechanical failure, by what appears on video.

The FAA says it regularly inspects helicopter tour operators. Changes were made in 2007 after a string of helicopter crashes.

“I think we see so many crashes in Hawaii because there are so many here. It’s a thriving business with tour helicopters,” said Forman.

Among those changes, helicopters that fly over water must install floats, and have better pre-flight passengers briefings and life preservers.

Crash video goes viral

Winrich uploaded his video clip to YouTube under the account “mrmotofy.” The video has since been requested and reposted by media outlets from all over the world.

He admitted he struggled with the decision to post the video. “Honestly my first thought was to help them. That’s why the video just ended,” he said. “I wanted to balance respect for what just happened. I wasn’t sure about all the complicated things, so I wanted to wait and clear my head a little bit and tried to decide if I should or shouldn’t.”


Ultimately, he said, he saw the video as a reflection of “just that amazing factor of what just happened, and then something like that, you’re right in front of it, nobody expects it to happen, but it does, and so just immediately, someone starts running to help, because that’s how most humans are. That’s our human nature generally. When something tragic happens, you want to try to help them.”

Source:  http://khon2.com



































Arizona Memorial