The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.
Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Westwind Helicopters; Santa Fe, Texas
Rolls Royce; Indianapolis, Indiana
Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf
GM Leasing Company LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N1371
NTSB Identification: CEN17FA112
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, February 27, 2017 in Chauvin, LA
Aircraft: BELL 407, registration: N1371
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On February 27, 2017, approximately 1033 central standard time, a Bell 407 helicopter, N1371, owned by GM Leasing of Broussard, Louisiana, and operated by Westwind Helicopters of Santa Fe, Texas, was destroyed when it impacted marshy water about 15 miles southwest of its home base of Houma, Louisiana (HUM). The commercial pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed throughout the area and a company flight following plan (via Sky Connect) was activated. The repositioning flight was being conducted under the provisions of Federal Code of Regulations Part 91. The flight originated from Gulf of Mexico (GOM) oil platform South Timbalier (ST37) at 1014.
The helicopter had just completed a Part 135 passenger flight from HUM to ST37, dropping off 2 passengers. The passengers reported that the flight to ST37 was normal. After completion of the passenger flight, the pilot was to return the helicopter to HUM for a minor repair of an engine cowl fastener. According to Sky Connect information, the helicopter departed ST37 at 1014 with the pilot as the only person on board for an approximate 30-minute flight back to HUM. Sky Connect data showed the flight path of the helicopter flying inbound toward HUM on a northwest heading. There were a total of 6 Sky Connect flight path points that were received in 2-minute intervals.
Available Sky Connect Flight Path Points:
1 Heading 108 degrees, altitude 267 feet, ground speed 80 knots (ST37 Departure)
2 Heading 337 degrees, altitude 728 feet, ground speed 148 knots
3 Heading 336 degrees, altitude 699 feet, ground speed 144 knots
4 Heading 336 degree, altitude 486 feet, ground speed 144 knots
5 Heading 336 degrees, altitude 548 feet, ground speed 150 knots
6 Heading 336 degrees, altitude 374 feet, ground speed 148 knots (Last Recorded Point)
The last Sky Connect data point was at 1024 (N29.291 latitude / W 90.521 longitude). Sky Connect issued an "Overdue" alarm at 1033. Westwind flight monitoring personnel dispatched a search helicopter at 1103 from the HUM base and the helicopter wreckage was sited at 1135 in shallow marsh waters of South Timbalier Bay, about 15 miles SSE of HUM (N29.310278 latitude / W90.546389 longitude).
There were no radio or distress calls heard from the helicopter.
All of the major helicopter wreckage was found within an approximate 100-foot radius in 4-foot deep water. Lighter airframe debris were found floating away from the main helicopter wreckage.
The helicopter was recovered to Southern Aircraft Recovery, Baton Rouge, Louisiana were it was examined under the supervision of the NTSB, with representatives from the FAA, Westwind Helicopters, Rolls Royce, and Bell Helicopter.
During the examination, no mechanical anomalies were discovered with the helicopter airframe, drive system, or flight controls. Examination and teardown of the engine did not reveal any anomalies. A review of the maintenance logbooks revealed that the scheduled maintenance was up-to-date, did not show any outstanding items, and all applicable service bulletins were accomplished. A review of the pilot training records showed that the pilot was qualified and current in the Bell 407.
The Engine Control Unit (ECU) which had been recovered was placed into a fresh water rinse at recovery. Following the rinse, a visual examination of the ECU revealed no evidence of case damage or water intrusion. Due to the unit having been submerged in salt water the ECU will be shipped to Triumph Engine Controls in West Hartford Connecticut for possible engine data query.
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A 26-year-old pilot was killed this afternoon after the helicopter he was flying crashed into a bayou in southern Terrebonne Parish, authorities said.
Authorities identified the pilot as Matthew Kawamura of Enterprise, Ala.
Members of the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office Water Patrol responded to the crash, which occurred shortly after 12:52 p.m. in Bayou Barre, a waterway that feeds into a lake by the same name about 10 miles south of Montegut, Sheriff's Office spokesman Maj. Malcom Wolfe said.
Investigators pronounced Kawamura dead shortly after recovering his body at the scene, Wolfe said.
There was wreckage and debris from the downed aircraft in the waters where deputies recovered the pilot's body, Wolfe said.
Authorities said there were no other passengers on board the aircraft, which flew for Westwind Helicopters Inc.
Westwind, based in Santa Fe, Texas, provides personnel transportation for offshore oil and gas operations, charter services and power line and pipeline patrols throughout the Gulf Coast. The company's fleet is comprised of Bell series helicopters such as the 206 and 407, the firm's website says.
Westwind operates bases in Houma, Abbeville, Cameron and Venice, as well as Santa Fe and Rockport, Texas.
"Westwind is working in conjunction with the National Transportation Safety Board regarding the ongoing investigation," the company said in a statement Monday. "Everyone at Westwind offers their deepest condolences to the family and friends of our pilot, and we are keeping those affected in our prayers during this difficult time."
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating, Wolfe said.