Thursday, May 25, 2017

Eurocopter EC 135P2, N62UP, registered to University of Pennsylvania and operated by Metro Aviation: Fatal accident occurred May 25, 2017 near New Castle Airport (KILG), Wilmington, Delaware

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Metro Aviation, Inc.; Shreveport, Louisiana
NATCA; Washington, District of Columbia

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA190
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, May 25, 2017 in New Castle, DE
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER DEUTSCHLAND GMBH EC 135, registration: N62UP
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 May 25, 2017, at 1153 eastern daylight time, a Eurocopter Deutschland GMBH EC 135 P2, N62UP, was destroyed when it impacted terrain near New Castle, Delaware. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter was registered to the University of Pennsylvania and operated by Metro Aviation as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed about the time of the accident, and the flight was operated on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. The flight originated from Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), Atlantic City, New Jersey, about 1115.

According to the operator, the helicopter was refueled prior to departure, and the purpose of the flight was for the pilot to practice instrument approach procedures.

Preliminary review of radar and voice communication data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that air traffic control cleared the helicopter for the ILS RWY 1 approach at ILG. The radar track depicted the helicopter established on the final approach course about 2,000 ft mean sea level (msl) which was both the assigned altitude and the intermediate minimum descent altitude for the approach. The helicopter maintained 2,000 ft msl as it continued through the glideslope and crossed over the locator outer marker. The published crossing altitude for the outer marker while established on the glideslope was 1,842 ft.

The helicopter continued towards the landing runway about 3 miles beyond the outer marker on course about 2,000 ft msl when the pilot declared a missed approach. The helicopter then climbed on course to 2,525 ft msl before it turned to the right and descended rapidly. Radar contact was lost at 1,625 ft msl.

According to FAA records, the pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for rotorcraft-helicopter. Additionally, he held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for helicopter and instrument helicopter, and a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. The pilot's most recent second-class medical certificate was issued on October 20, 2016. At that time, he reported 4,200 hours of total flight experience, of which, 100 hours were in the previous 6 months.

According to FAA records, the helicopter was manufactured in 2006, and was equipped with two Pratt & Whitney Canada, PW206B2 engines. According to the helicopter maintenance logbook, the most recent approved aircraft inspection program (AAIP) 100-hour inspection was performed on April 25, 2017, at an airframe total time of 5,152.1 hours. Prior to the accident flight, the helicopter airframe total time was 5,163.1 hours. Also, the left and right engines had been operated for 5,168.9, and 5,155.7 total hours; respectively.

The helicopter came to rest in a water retention ditch about 3,200 ft prior to the threshold of runway 1. It was fragmented and partially consumed by a postimpact fire. All the major components of the helicopter were located in the 30 ft by 20 ft area of the main wreckage. An odor of Jet A fuel was noted at the accident site. A fence located about 15 ft from and parallel to the main wreckage location had a 45° angle cut in the top post. In addition, about 5 ft directly under the cut post was a damaged section of fence that had part of a rotor blade imbedded in it. Furthermore, a section of wood was located that exhibited 45° angle cuts on either end.

The cockpit and forward section of the fuselage were partially consumed by fire. Control continuity of the cyclic and collective was confirmed to the rotor head from the cockpit through several breaks and fractures. The cyclic, collective, and antitorque pedals were separated and located in the main wreckage.

The rotor head and transmission remained attached, but were separated from the airframe due to impact. All four blades of the main rotor remained attached to the rotor head. One blade exhibited impact damage and was not thermally damaged. All other blades were consumed by fire. All pitch links remained attached to the rotor head. The transmission mounts were separated from the helicopter. The tailboom was impact separated and consumed by fire. The fenestron was impact separated. The tail rotor vanes were bent the opposite direction of rotation and several vanes were impact separated. In addition, several of the vanes exhibited leading edge gouging and rotational scoring.

The left engine was impact separated from the engine mounts. The reduction gearbox and the turbomachine were impact separated. The compressor turbine disc and compressor were rotated by hand. The left engine power turbine was removed and the drive shaft exhibited torsional deformation and fractures. In addition, the power turbine wheel exhibited rotational scoring.

The right engine was impact separated from the engine mounts. The right engine power turbine was removed and the drive shaft exhibited torsional twisting deformation and fractures. In addition, the power turbine wheel exhibited rotational scoring.

The central warning panel and Sky Connect tracker unit were retained and sent to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory in Washington, DC for download.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Helicopter pilot Michael (Mike) Murphy

Erika Murphy shared stories of her husband, Mike, who she characterizes as humble and a great pilot, person, father, son and brother.

Helicopter pilot Michael (Mike) Murphy died May 25 when his Eurocopter EC135 crashed at a Delaware industrial park while conducting approach training at New Castle Airport.

Murphy, 37, flew PennStar medical helicopters for the University of Pennsylvania Health System and other entities, as well as serving as a backup pilot for NBC10’s SkyForce10.

“He never bragged about being a great pilot but he was a great pilot,” Erika said.

Erika, who is pregnant with their second son, spoke to NBC10 Thursday as she prepared to lay her husband to rest Friday.

Besides flying and family, she said Mike liked exercising, the outdoors, their family dog and country music — Jamey is named after country singer Jamey Johnson.

“Michael didn’t have the best rhythm,” Erika said, but that didn’t stop him from dancing with his son, including the night before he died.

The couple met in January 2010, even though Erika had worked with Mike’s mother in the Winslow Township School District for years. He took her on a chopper ride on their third date.

“That’s when I think I knew, I think he’s a keeper… that’s a pretty cool date,” Erika said. “No other guy could have had a cooler date than that one.”

At the time Mike was a flight instructor at Flying W in Medford, New Jersey. First a truck driver, he began flying years earlier after a friend took him up in a chopper.

“He loved flying,” Erika said. “He wanted to train Jamey to fly.”

Mike worked all over the place but there was one week he would always take off — when his family went to Ocean City each summer.

“He would have done anything for me and Jamey,” Erika said. “That’s why he worked so much.”

“He was a wonderful man, a wonderful father son and brother,” she added “He would have done anything for anyone whether he knew you or not.”

Visiting hours will be held for Murphy on Friday from 9 a.m. to noon at Christ the Redeemer Parish/Assumption Church on 318 Carl Hasselhan Drive in Atco, New Jersey. A Mass of Christian Burial will follow.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Murphy children’s college fund. Please make checks out to Erika Murphy, c/o LeRoy P. Wooster Funeral Home & Crematory, 441 White Horse Pike, Atco, NJ 08004.

A GoFundMe campaign for the family had raised more than $40,000 Thursday afternoon.

Family friend Jordan Wolochow of Jordan Brian Photography in Mount Laurel, New Jersey is also offering family portrait sessions on Saturday, June 17 for $50 each, with proceeds going to Murphy’s family.

The cause of the crash that killed Mike remains under investigation.

Original article can be found here:

Michael R. Murphy, 37, professional copter pilot

Michael R. Murphy loved to fly from the time he took his first helicopter ride about 12 years ago. He then changed careers from a self-employed truck driver to pilot.

On Thursday, May 25, Mr. Murphy, 37, of Franklinville, died when the medical helicopter he was flying for a training exercise crashed in Delaware.

Aviation authorities are still investigating what caused the crash. The Eurocopter EC135 burst into flames behind a postal facility in New Castle after it had taken off from the Atlantic City airport that morning. Mr. Murphy, flying alone, was practicing instrument navigation needed to fly during inclement weather, said his father, Michael Murphy. He was flying in foggy and cloudy conditions, said his wife, Erika.

Erika Murphy said the two met at P.J. Whelihan's Pub & Restaurant in Medford. At the time, Mr. Murphy was a flight instructor. For their third date, he took her for a helicopter ride.

"He was very entertaining," said his wife, who said her husband had an "infectious" personality that made others smile. "There was never a dull moment with Michael."

He proposed in March 2013. That November, about two dozen people attended their wedding in Las Vegas.

Mr. Murphy loved roughhousing with his boxer, Harley, who died recently, and playing or dancing with the couple's 2-year-old son, Jamey Michael. His wife is pregnant with another boy.

"He loved taking Jamey and Harley on walks to tire them both out," Erika Murphy said.

In a strange coincidence, Jamey was born 10 weeks premature when Pope Francis visited Philadelphia in 2015. The last previous papal visit to Philadelphia was when Pope John Paul II came in 1979, and Mr. Murphy was born five weeks premature then.

On Thursday, Mr. Murphy was flying for Metro Aviation, which provides air transportation for the University of Pennsylvania Health System. Previously, he flew for Telemundo and NBC10 in Philadelphia. Prior to that, he worked for Liberty Helicopter Tours in New York, flying tourists above Manhattan or taking VIPs to special events.

He took former Eagles wide receiver Freddie Mitchell for a ride when the NFL star was on Millionaire Matchmakers and his date confronted him about not paying child support. He once flew a QVC crew, and another time gave a lift to actress Liv Tyler.

Mr. Murphy's favorite event, however, was a chance meeting at Atlantic City's airport when the Triple Crown winner American Pharoah was flying out. Mr. Murphy posed to have his picture taken with the horse, the first to win both the Triple Crown and the Breeder's Club Classic, completing the Grand Slam of American horse racing.

As a truck driver, Mr. Murphy hauled sand and gravel between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He had hauled dirt to New York for the infield at Yankee Stadium also, his father said.

Mr. Murphy was a graduate of Edgewood Regional High School, now Winslow Township High, and earned an associate's degree from Camden County College.

"He was very self-driven," said Mr. Murphy's father. When he was young, Mr. Murphy recalled, his son made a hundred calls as he was looking for a blueberry-picking job. "He was a hard worker, and he wanted to pay his way."

In addition to his wife, father, and son, Mr. Murphy is survived by his mother, Janet, and a sister.

Visitation is scheduled for Friday, June 2, from 9 a.m. to noon followed by a Mass at Christ the Redeemer Parish/Assumption Church, 318 Carl Hasselhan Dr., Atco. Interment will be private at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to two funds set up to help the Murphy family. One was created by a friend and coworker for the family. The other was created by PennSTAR. Condolences may be sent to the LeRoy P. Wooster Funeral Home & Crematory, 441 White Horse Pike, Atco, N.J. 08004.

Original article can be found here:

Michael Murphy served as a back-up pilot of SkyForce10 for NBC10 and Telemundo62.

A 37-year-old Franklinville, New Jersey, man--identified as Michael Murphy--was killed when the PennStar medical helicopter he was piloting crashed into a drainage ditch behind a U.S. Postal Service building near New Castle Thursday and exploded.  Murphy was the sole occupant of the rotorcraft.  

The fiery crash happened at 11:55 a.m. Thursday on the 200 block of Quigley Boulevard, when for unknown reasons the 2006 Airbus EC-135-P2 went down. 

"The helicopter, associated with the University of Pennsylvania hospitals then became engulfed in flames; responding fire personnel from the Good Will fire company and neighboring fire companies arrived at the scene and were able to extinguish the flames," said Delaware state Police Cpl. Jeff Hale.  

Flight travel logs indicate the PennStar aviation unit was scheduled to arrive at KILG at 11:55 a.m. on Thursday, May 25, 2017.  It had departed from Atlantic City, New Jersey, Thursday morning.  

"This afternoon’s helicopter accident in New Castle, Delaware involved a helicopter operated by Metro Aviation," said Susan Phillips, Penn Medicine’s SVP for Public Affairs. "Metro provides aviation services for PennStar, the air transportation service for the University of Pennsylvania Health System. The pilot of the helicopter was conducting a training flight. No patients or Penn Medicine employees were on board."

Hale said surrounding vehicles sustained damage from flying debris and flames; a building also appeared to be burned.

"We are lucky, at this point, that he did not strike any occupied buildings, and that there was no other injuries," said Hale.  

Witnesses reported seeing the helicopter flying erratically, perhaps trying not to hit any buildings, but Hale said the pilot's actions in the moments before the crash will be the subject of a federal investigation. Marian and Jay Williams, who own Kompressed Air of Delaware, witnessed the crash from their business across the street on Quigley Boulevard.  

"We heard the sputtering, a terrible sound coming from the engine of the aircraft, and it went down.  It immediately exploded, we saw black smoke right away," said Jay Williams.  "It was unbelievable.  We felt it--this building shook." 

The couple drove over to see whether they could render any assistance, but couldn't even make out that it was a helicopter that had crashed.

"The flames were just atrocious," said Jay Williams.  "We couldn't see anything left of an airframe at all.  There was nothing; we didn't know it was a helicopter until we saw it on the news."

A spokesperson for Metro Aviation said Murphy was very experienced, and it remains unclear why the helicopter crashed.  

"We have sent our leadership team to meet with the FAA to investigate, but until it's over and we've determined what happened, it would be presumptuous to start commenting," she said. "This was a very experienced pilot. The next-of-kin has been notified, but because some other loved ones are still being tracked down, we won't be releasing the name."

A hazardous materials crew was also at the scene for reports of fuel that had possibly spilled in a nearby creek.  

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were expected to arrive at the scene Thursday night and will be probing the crash over the next few days; a final report could still be months away.

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