Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Bell 206B, Republic Helicopters Inc., N978RH: Fatal accident occurred February 06, 2017 in Galveston, Texas

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Houston, Texas
Transportation Safety Board of Canada; Gatineau, Quebec, Canada
Bell Helicopters; Fort Worth, Texas
Rolls-Royce; Indianapolis, Indiana 
Republic Helicopters, Inc.; Santa Fe, Texas

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Republic Helicopters Inc:   http://registry.faa.gov/N978RH

NTSB Identification: CEN17FA100 
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Monday, February 06, 2017 in Galveston, TX
Aircraft: BELL 206B, registration: N978RH
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 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 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 6, 2017, about 1906 central standard time, a Bell 206B-III, N978RH, impacted the waters of West Bay 8 miles west of Galveston, Texas. One passenger was fatally injured. The pilot and a second passenger were seriously injured. The helicopter was destroyed. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Republic Helicopters, Santa Fe, Texas, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135 as a non-scheduled domestic passenger flight. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed at the time of the accident. Company flight following was being utilized. The flight originated from the oil tanker Eagle Vancouver, anchored in Galveston Bay, at 1837, and was en route to Republic Helicopters heliport (2TE1), in Santa Fe.

This was the helicopter's third flight of the day. It departed 2TE1 at 1404 and flew to the oil tanker Eagle Vancouver and landed at 1457. The two passengers, both employees of Societe Generalde Surveillance (SGS) deplaned and commenced their work on the tanker. The helicopter was scheduled to depart the tanker about 1600 but was delayed for unknown reasons. The helicopter eventually took off at 1837 and was scheduled to arrive at 2TE1 at 1910. Sunset was at 1802. The last radio communication from the pilot to Republic Operations was at 1906, when he reported he had the lights of Galveston in sight. The helicopter was equipped with a Blue Sky Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking system. The last data point from the Blue Sky system was at 1906, when the helicopter was at N29°11'15.396" and W94°57'7.914", about .27 miles from the Galveston Island coastline. Altitude was 494 feet and speed was 127 mph. The accident site was at N29°14.39' and W94°59.44' in West Bay, between Galveston Island and the mainland, or 4.30 miles from the last data and 8 miles and 283° from GLS.

The wreckage was recovered on February 8. Examination disclosed no evidence of airframe or flight control malfunction or failure. Engine examination disclosed no anomalies.




GALVESTON - A passenger died and the pilot and another passenger were rescued by a good Samaritan after a helicopter crashed into West Galveston Bay, Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset said Tuesday.

The names of the pilot and passengers were not immediately available. Arnold Scott, National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said the survivors were still hospitalized late Tuesday and were undergoing surgery.

The owner of the helicopter, Republic Helicopters Inc. of Santa Fe, issued a statement saying, "the outlook remains positive," for the survivors.

The helicopter was returning from a oil-cargo survey of the Eagle Vancouver, a 1,092-foot oil tanker in the Gulf of Mexico, said Scott Smith, Republic saftey officer. Two surveyors had hired the helicopter to land them on the tanker so they could check the quality of the oil, Smith said.

The helicopter made its last radio contact with the company at 7:15 p.m. Monday, said Smith said.

Attempts later to reach the aircraft were unsuccessful and the company put its "lost communications procedure" into action and contacted the U.S. Coast Guard, Smith said. The crash is the first of a Republic-owned aircraft, he said.

Sgt. Richard Standifer, Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman, said, "It was foggy, so that may have played a role in the ability to navigate the helicopter."

The Coast Guard also failed to make radio contact and began a rescue operation, dispatching a helicopter and a search boat, said Andy Kendrick, Coast Guard petty officer.

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Eric Weiss said the helicopter crashed about 8 miles west of Scholes International Airport in Galveston.Trochesset said the search operations were initially hampered by fog and that wreckage was discovered about 9:40 p.m. by Sean Welsh, 52, the county building inspector, and his son, Micky Welsh, 17, who were on the bay in their private boat.

Welsh said an acquaintance notified him by phone about the crash. Welsh and his son took their 21-foot boat into the bay and began a search pattern.

He sighted the two crash survivors clinging to a fragment of the wreckage barely poking above the water. Welsh pulled the two survivors into his boat. "They were cold and wet and beat up," Welsh said. He phoned a friend, who called the sheriff's office.

When they arrived at the dock, an ambulance was waiting to take the survivors to the University of Texas Medical Branch. Sgt. Louie Trochesset, the head of the sheriff's marine division, was also waiting for Welsh.

Louie Trochesset returned to the wreck with Welsh, where they received a call from a Coast Guard helicopter that the crew had spotted a body floating near the wreckage. They retrieved the body about 500 yards from the crash site, Henry Trochesset said.


Source:   http://www.houstonchronicle.com




GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — A helicopter pilot has died and two passengers pulled from the waters off Galveston Island after their copter crashed.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Andy Kendrick says the passengers Monday evening were either being taken to or from the tanker Eagle Vancouver that was about 50 miles offshore.

Kendrick says the helicopter company, Republic Helicopters of Santa Fe, just northwest of Galveston, lost contact with the pilot shortly before 8 p.m. and notified the Coast Guard.

A Galveston County sheriff’s boat found the wreckage in West Bay, more than two miles from Galveston Island’s Jamaica Beach.

The body of the unidentified pilot was recovered. The passengers were taken to a hospital and their conditions were unknown.


Kendrick says it’s not clear if the two passengers were members of the tanker crew.







GALVESTON – A passenger died and the pilot and another passenger were rescued after a helicopter crashed into West Galveston Bay, Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset said Tuesday.

The names of the pilot and passengers were not immediately available. The helicopter, a Bell 206 manufactured in 1966 and owned by Republic Helicopter Inc. of Santa Fe, made its last radio contact with the company at 7:05 p.m. Monday, said Andy Kendrick, U.S. Coast Guard petty officer.

Sgt. Richard Standifer, Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman, said, "It was foggy, so that may have played a role in the ability to navigate the helicopter."

The Coast Guard also failed to make radio contact and began a rescue operation, dispatching a helicopter and a search boat, Kendrick said.

The helicopter was either returning from a survey of the the Eagle Vancouver, a 1,092-foot oil tanker in the Gulf of Mexico.

Source:   http://www.chron.com




GALVESTON, Texas -- A helicopter with three people on board crashed offshore near Jamaica Beach in Galveston on Monday night, the Coast Guard said.

Two people were rescued, but one person died in the crash. At last check, the victims were still in the hospital at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

According to the Coast Guard, officials lost communication with the helicopter around 7 p.m. as it crashed about 2.5 miles in the West Bay offshore from Jamaica Beach. 

The Coast Guard said it was a private helicopter based out of Santa Fe with a pilot and two passengers on board.

The Houston Chronicle reports the chopper, operated by Republic Helicopters, was being used to transport workers to and from an oil tanker in the Gulf.

Republic described Monday night's incident as a water landing. According to its website, it has no prior reported incidents or safety issues.

The identity of the person who died has not been released. There are conflicting reports from authorities and the company as to whether it was the pilot or a passenger who died.

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

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