Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Bell 206B, N978RH, registered to and operated by Republic Helicopters: Fatal accident occurred February 06, 2017 in Galveston, Texas

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

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.

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.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On February 6, 2017, at 1906 central standard time, a Bell 206B-III, N978RH, impacted the waters of West Bay near 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's Helicopters, Inc., Heliport (2TE1), Santa Fe, Texas.

According to the operator, this was the helicopter's third flight of the day. It departed 2TE1 at 1404 and flew to the Eagle Vancouver, landing at 1457. The pilot shut down and the two passengers, both employees of Societe Generalde Surveillance (SGS), disembarked and began their work on the tanker. The helicopter had originally been scheduled to depart at 1600 but was delayed. The helicopter finally took off at 1837. Official sunset was at 1802. It was scheduled to arrive at 2TE1 at 1910. The last radio communication Republic Helicopters Operations had with the helicopter was at 1906 when the pilot reported, "I have the lights of the shore."

The helicopter was equipped with a GPS SkyRouter fast tracking system that reports the helicopter's position every 2 minutes. The last data point received from the GPS SkyRouter system was at 1906, when the helicopter was about 0.27miles from the Galveston Island coastline at 494 feet and 127 mph. Republic Helicopters An "Inactive" signal was received from the Blue Sky GPS by Republic Helicopters Operations 10 minutes after this last contact, or 1916, and the U.S. Coast Guard was alerted. Based on time and distance from the last data point to the accident location with an approximate helicopter speed of 120 mph, the time of the accident was computed to be 1909.

On February 22, 2017, at 1100, two Federal Aviation Administration inspectors from the Houston Flight Standards District Office interviewed the pilot at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Also present was Republic's Director of Safety and the pilot's wife. The pilot confirmed there had been a delay in departure, but when they did depart, the weather was "good." He said he had more than 6 miles' visibility and he could see the moon above and the water below. He contacted Republic Operations, established his flight plan, received a weather update and got the current altimeter setting. His en route altitude was between 700 and 800 feet. He said that as he approached Galveston Island State Park, he had visual reference with the lights from Galveston and lights off the water. The next thing he remembered was being in the water.
he didn't. They had to throw the line again. When they got me to the deck, I just flopped down on the deck. I was so cold. I just don't understand why it took so long for someone to rescue us."

The accident site was at N29°14.39' W94°59.44' -- 4.3 miles from the last Blue Sky data point at an azimuth of 326.95° and 8 miles, or 283° from Scholes International Airport (KGLS), Galveston. It was 6.96 miles on a heading of 325.73° from 2TE1. The accident site was in an area with little or no ground lights.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The 30-year-old pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rotorcraft-helicopter rating, and private pilot privileges with airplane single-engine land and instrument ratings. He was hired by Republic Helicopters on March 31, 2015. His first-class airman medical certificate, dated March 16, 2016, contained no waivers, limitations, or restrictions.

According to Republic Helicopters records, as of September 7, 2016, the pilot had logged a total of 1,702 flight hours, of which 1,552 hours were in rotorcraft, 1,452 hours were in the Bell 206, and another 600 hours in Bell models 222, 230, and 430. He had also logged 220 hours were under simulated instrument conditions, and 4 hours were in actual instrument conditions. He had also logged 150 hours in single-engine airplanes. No night flying time was noted in any category. His last FAA and company proficiency check was accomplished on March 1, 2016, in the Bell 206.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

N978RH, serial number 4075, a model 206B-III, was manufactured by the Bell Helicopter Corporation in 1989. It was powered by an Allison (now Rolls-Royce) 250-C20J turboshaft engine, serial number CAE 270491, rated at 450 shaft horsepower.

The last airframe annual inspection was performed on August 31, 2016, at 15,138.9 total hours. At the time of the accident, the airframe had accrued 15,287.2 total hours. The transponder and pitot-static system were IFR-certified on September 30, 2016 (FAR 91.413 and 91.411). At the last 100-hour inspection, the engine had accumulated 13,645.4 total hours and 24,394 cycles. The last compressor and turbine overhauls were accomplished at 11,872.8 and 13,118.3 hours, respectively.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

According to Meteorology Group Chairman's Factual Report, AIRMET (Airmen's Meteorological Information) Sierra was issued at 1445 CST, well before the accident flight departure time, and valid at the accident time for the accident site. The AIRMET forecast IFR conditions due to mist developing between 1500 and 1800 CST. The Area Forecast (FA) issued at 1345 CST and valid at the accident time and departure time forecasted a broken ceiling at 2,000 feet with tops at 5,000 feet. The KGLS Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF), valid at the time of the accident, was issued at 1906 CST and was valid for a 23-hour period beginning at 1900 CST. It forecasted the wind to be from 150° at 10 knots, 5 statute miles visibility, mist, and an overcast ceiling at 400 feet agl. The KGLS TAF valid before the departure time was issued at 1726 CST and was valid for a 24-hour period beginning at 1800 CST. It forecasted the wind to be from 150° at 14 knots, 6 statute miles visibility, haze, and scattered clouds at 1,000 feet agl. The 1726 CST KGLS TAF forecast did not forecast L (low) IFR conditions until 2000 CST.

The report noted the phase of the moon was "Waxing Gibbous with 78% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated. The moonlight would have likely been visible above the cloud tops. Below 3,000 feet near the accident site at the accident time would have been instrument meteorological conditions with no moonlight visible."

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The helicopter was recovered from West Bay on February 8, 2017, by T&T Marine Salvage, Inc, and was examined at their facilities at Teichman Point, Galveston, on February 8 and 9, 2017. T&T Marine Salvage reported the water depth at the accident site was approximately 7 to 8 feet, and all recovered wreckage was found in a radius of 80 to 100 feet.

Damage was consistent with a relatively level water impact. The fuselage was separated into several sections. The cabin and cockpit area was extensively damaged. The main rotor had departed the helicopter. There was evidence of mast bumping. The mast fracture was consistent with the rotating main rotor blades striking the water. Three main rotor blades strikes to the fuselage were noted. Both main rotor blades bore impact damage, with one blade missing two-thirds of its span to the tip. The other main rotor blades had an intact spar, but the spar was bent forward -- consistent with sudden stoppage. Transmission continuity was observed. The last two tail rotor driveshaft segments on the tail boom were missing and evidence indicated that the driveshaft was struck by a main rotor blade at impact. The tail rotor gearbox rotated freely. The helicopter was equipped with STC (supplemental type certificate) Van Horn tail rotor blades. They turned freely , and the hub and blades were relatively intact. Free T/R pitch change was present through the T/R hub. The flight controls exhibited much damage in the cockpit and vertical tunnel areas. No pre-impact anomalies were observed in any airframe systems.

Examination of the instrument panel revealed the following: altimeter, 900 feet; Kollsman window, 29.92 inches of mercury; heading indicator, 220°; Hobbs meter, 4,143.8. Examination of the annunciator panel revealed no stretching of any of the bulb filaments. Examination of the position lights revealed no filament stretching of the red or white lights. The green light and landing lights were destroyed.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The pilot and right rear seat passenger were both seriously injured and were found by the U.S. Coast Guard approximately one hour after the accident, clinging to a section of fuselage. The pilot had sustained stomach and intestinal trauma, several lumbar fractures, and abrasions on his shoulders, consistent with rubbing of the shoulder harness. The left front seat passenger was fatally injured and was found about 100 meters from the wreckage.

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

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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