Saturday, August 12, 2017

Bell 407, N31VA, Virginia State Police: Fatal accident occurred August 12, 2017 in Albemarle County -and- Accident occurred May 11, 2010 near Virginia Highlands Airport (VJI), Abingdon, Washington County, Virginia

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Washington, DC
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Bell Helicopter; Fort Worth, Texas
Rolls Royce Corporation; Indianapolis, Indiana 
Virginia State Police; Richmond, Virginia 

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

Commonwealth of Virginia
Department of State Police
http://registry.faa.gov/N31VA

Location: Charlottesville, VA
Accident Number: ERA17FA274
Date & Time: 08/12/2017, 1649 EDT
Registration: N31VA
Aircraft: BELL 407
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Public Aircraft

On August 12, 2017, about 1649 eastern daylight time, a Bell 407, N31VA, operated by the Virginia State Police (VSP), was destroyed after impacting trees and terrain in Charlottesville, Virginia. The airline transport rated pilot, and private pilot-rated observer, were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the public use aerial observation flight that departed Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport (CHO), Charlottesville, Virginia about 1554.

According to the VSP, the mission of the helicopter flight crew was to provide continuous video downlink to the VSP command center of the public demonstrations that were occurring in Charlottesville, Virginia. After being refueled, the helicopter departed CHO about 1554, with the airline transport pilot flying the helicopter, and observer operating the helicopter's camera.

The helicopter arrived over the city of Charlottesville at 1604, and remained over the city until 1642 when they were re-tasked to provide over-watch for the Governor of Virginia's motorcade. At 1643, the helicopter crew advised the VSP command center that they were heading directly to the motorcade, and were about 30 seconds away. About 1649, another helicopter advised the VSP command center that the accident helicopter had crashed.

Preliminary radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), indicated that just prior to the accident, at 1648, the helicopter was flying at an altitude of approximately 2,200 ft above mean sea level (msl) in the area of the motorcade. At that time, the helicopter was traveling north-northwestbound before it began to turn to the right and descend rapidly. At 1648:30, radar indicated that the helicopter was descending through 1,450 ft msl, at a calculated groundspeed of 30 knots. Moments later, the helicopter descended below the floor of radar coverage, and radar contact was lost.

Approximately 37 witnesses were interviewed, and their descriptions of the altitude, direction of flight, and velocity of the helicopter varied; however, the preponderance of witness statements reported that the helicopter initially was hovering, began a rolling oscillation, began to spin (rotate about the vertical axis), and then descended in a 45° nose down attitude, while continuing to spin until it was lost from sight below the tops of the surrounding trees. They then observed a plume of smoke rising from the area of the accident site.

Preliminary review of security camera video provided by the University of Virginia corroborated statements from witnesses regarding the rotation (spinning) of the helicopter during the descent, and the nose down pitch attitude.

Examination of the accident site revealed, that the main wreckage had come to rest upright, on a magnetic heading of 333° in heavily wooded terrain, adjacent to a residence. The helicopter fuselage was highly fragmented from impact and postimpact fire damage, but most major components were present. A debris field, that was several hundred feet long was observed to the west of the main wreckage, with several pieces of debris coming to rest on the roof of the residence.

The debris field was comprised primarily of sheet metal from the tailboom, aluminum honeycomb sandwich structure from the airframe, tail rotor drive system pieces, and tail rotor control tube pieces. The main wreckage was comprised of the cockpit and cabin, baggage area, and the forward tailboom attachment to the main fuselage.

Examination of the high skid type landing gear revealed that the left landing gear skid tube was fragmented about 27 inches from the aft end of the tube. The aft cross-member had remained attached to the left landing gear skid. The left landing gear skid was also fractured from the forward cross-member above the tube cuff. The right landing gear skid was fractured from the forward and aft cross-members above the cross-member tube cuff. The right high step, which spanned the length of the right landing gear skid tube, was found loose in the wreckage, and was fractured at its forward and aft cross-member attachment points. The aft left step and the forward left step, located on the cross-member attachments, exhibited a fractured aft left step that was not recovered and an intact forward left step. The left side of the cross-members, which were normally attached to the left landing gear skid tube and curved, had a more flattened appearance than the right cross-members.

Examination of the tailboom revealed that the mid-section, which included the horizontal stabilizer, had come to rest adjacent to the forward right side of the nose section. The left horizontal stabilizer exhibited an angled cut consistent with main rotor blade contact. The outboard forward slat was separated from the left horizontal stabilizer, and the upper and lower vertical fin were separated from the stabilizer and found loose in the debris field. The right vertical fin exhibited partial fractures at the upper and lower fin but, the right horizontal stabilizer had remained intact.

The tailboom aft section, which contained the tail rotor gearbox and tail rotor, was fractured about 48.5 inches from the tail rotor axis of rotation. The tailboom aft section came to rest in a tree about 40 ft above the ground and 100-150 ft south-southwest of the main wreckage. The left side of the tailboom aft section had an impact mark consistent with contact with a tail rotor blade. The impact mark was located about 27-31 inches from the tail rotor axis of rotation.

Examination of the main rotor revealed that, all four main rotor blades (blue, orange, red, and green) were present. The inboard ends of all four were thermally damaged from the postcrash fire, and each displayed differing degrees of damage:

The whole span of the blue main rotor blade was found at the main wreckage site. An outboard section (near the tip) was fractured but was still attached to the blade, and the blade displayed evidence of low rotational energy at impact. The inboard end was thermally damaged. The blade was still attached to grip/spindle, which was still attached to the hub. The pitch horn was still attached to grip, and the pitch control link (PCL) upper rod end was attached but, the pitch link body was fractured and thermally damaged.

The blade span of the orange main rotor blade, which was primarily composed of the spar was found at the main wreckage site. Most of the afterbody was missing from this segment of blade. The spar was fractured near the outboard end, and a portion of the tip end about 24 inches-long was found in the debris field. The blade was separated from the grip/spindle, and came to rest next to the hub, which still contained the grip/spindle (but was loose from the head). The grip/spindle was fractured and exhibited evidence of thermal damage. The pitch horn and PCL upper rod end was still attached to the grip. The PCL body was fractured and thermally damaged.

An inboard section of the red main rotor blade remained attached to the grip/spindle. The blade was fractured about 66 inches from the blade retaining bolts, though a portion of the spar remained, measuring about 78 inches in length. This remaining portion of spar was missing its afterbody and the leading-edge abrasion strip, the latter of which was found loose in the wreckage. A 103-inch-long piece of the blade was found under large branches about 20 ft south-southwest of the main wreckage. The blade piece displayed an impact mark on the leading edge, around the 128-inch blade station position. The blade remained attached to the grip/spindle and the pitch horn remained attached, but the pitch horn lug normally connected to the PCL upper rod end was fractured with signatures consistent with overload. The PCL upper rod end and its attached pitch horn lug were not recovered. A tip end from the blade, about 16 inches in length, was found in the debris field. A separated outboard adjustable weight package was also found in the debris field.

The whole blade span of the green main rotor blade was found at the wreckage site. The tip remained attached to the blade but the lower skin was peeled/separated (but still attached). The blade remained attached to the grip/spindle and the pitch horn remained attached to the grip/spindle. The PCL was still attached to the pitch horn but the link body was fractured and thermally damaged.

The composite main rotor hub was thermally damaged and exhibited splaying. The hub connection for the red main rotor blade was fractured in the blade-chordwise direction. The main rotor head fairing also had remained installed. Removal of the fairing revealed that the eight vibration attenuation springs were in their normally installed position.

The main rotor head remained connected to the main rotor mast. The main gearbox housing exhibited evidence of sooting and thermal distress from the postcrash fire. The kaflex coupling on the forward end of the input driveshaft was intact. The aft kaflex coupling was fractured. A portion of it was found loose in the main wreckage and exhibited thermal damage. Rotation of the input driveshaft resulted in rotation of the main rotor head, consistent with drive continuity through the main gearbox. The main gearbox remained attached to the helicopter airframe and exhibited no evidence of separation.

Examination of the tail rotor drive shafts (TRDS) revealed that, the oil cooler remained installed to the airframe. The forward and aft splines were thermally damaged but did not exhibit evidence of smeared or missing spline teeth. Rotation of the forward splines resulted in rotation of the cooler fan and the aft splines. Several pieces of separated TRDS were also discovered in the debris field. Normally four hanger bearings are present on the TRDS on the tailboom. Only 3 bearings were recovered. On a typical installation, there was 1 steel TRDS segment between engine and oil cooler, then 5 aluminum TRDS segments between oil cooler and tail rotor. The 5 aluminum TRDS segments were supported by 4 hanger bearings. The aluminum TRDS are numbered 1 (forward-most TRDS) to 5 (aft-most TRDS). The steel TRDS was whole with evidence of heat stress, the forward end flex coupling was fractured, and the attaching hardware was present. The splines at the aft end of the steel TRDS did not show evidence of smearing or fractured teeth.

TRDS 1 was fractured about 1/3 its length from the aft end. The splines on the forward end of the TRDS were intact with no evidence of smearing or fracturing. The fracture location was in line with a main rotor blade strike line observed on the adjacent tailboom sheet metal. The aft end of the fracture exhibited heat damage. The aft flexible coupling was whole and exhibited serpentining and opening of the laminates.

TRDS 2 was fractured near its midpoint. The fracture location was in line with a main rotor blade strike line observed on the adjacent tailboom sheet metal. The aft flexible coupling was whole and it exhibited serpentining.

TRDS 3: only the forward riveted end cap was recovered. The rivets were fractured consistent with shear.

TRDS 4 was fractured about 2/3 of its length from the forward end, consistent with a main rotor blade strike of the tailboom. Only the aft end of the shaft was recovered. The aft flexible coupling had remained attached and exhibited opening of its laminates. Fractured attachment flanges from the aluminum TRDS 5, along with its attaching hardware, remained attached to the aft flexible coupling, and the attachment flange fractures exhibited overload signatures.

TRDS 5 and its aft flexible coupling were intact, did not exhibit evidence of damage, and remained attached to the tail rotor gear box (TRGB) input flange.

Examination of the TRGB revealed, that it had remained firmly attached to the structure. Manual rotation of the input flange resulted in a corresponding rotation of the tail rotor. The oil sight gage revealed the presence of oil within the gearbox. The chip detector was removed and revealed no evidence of chips or debris.

The tail rotor, which was still installed on the aft portion of the tail boom, came to rest in the top of a tree. Examination of the tail rotor revealed that, both blades (white and red) remained attached, and the tail rotor rotated freely with no evidence of binding. The white tail rotor blade displayed damage to the tip, consistent with contacting the left side of the tail boom. Its leading edge also displayed a damaged area about 3 inches wide about 15.5 inches inboard from the tip. The red tail rotor blade did not exhibit any anomalous damage.

Examination of the engine revealed that hard body foreign object damage was present on the first stage compressor blades, consistent with the engine operating at the time of the accident. The combined engine oil and fuel filter was present but found loose within the wreckage. The filter elements were present, but the aluminum filter bowls were missing with evidence of melting and were not recovered. The left engine mount was fractured from the structure, and the engine was laying on its right side. Residual oil observed within gearbox was tarred, the oil from the top was bright brown in color. The gearbox chip detectors when examined revealed that the upper and lower chip detectors were missing their magnet. Manual rotation of the first stage compressor resulted in rotation of the gears and the spline to the turbine. The electronic control unit (ECU) was found loose in the wreckage with one of its electrical connectors connected. The ECU exhibited thermal damage from exposure to the postcrash fire.

Examination of the flight controls revealed that the three main actuators were in the debris at the main accident site near their normally installed locations. One of the actuators consisted of only the piston, and the body had been consumed by fire. The tail rotor control tube was continuous from the tail rotor to the tail boom aft section, where the tailboom had fractured and separated. Manual movement of the tail rotor control tube resulted in pitch change of the tail rotor blades with no evidence of binding.

The tail rotor PCLs were intact and exhibited slight bending near the rod ends. Witness marks near the upper rod ends of the tail rotor PCLs were consistent with the rods contacting the outboard washer weights. The stationary swashplate for the right cyclic arm was fractured, and the collective lever was attached but fractured at its lower clevis. The rotating swashplate PCL arms for the red and orange main rotor blades were fractured, consistent with overload and thermal damage. The orange blade rotating swashplate PCL arm was found loose in the recovered main wreckage debris. The two PCL lower rod ends, with attaching hardware present, were recovered loose in the recovered main wreckage debris. The swashplate drive levers were present, and the drive lever between the blue and the orange blade was fractured with heat distress. The non-rotating swashplate anti-drive upper lever was melted, while the lower lever was present. A rod end consistent with the left cyclic upper rod end for the stationary swashplate was found loose in the recovered main wreckage debris.

The bellcranks between the main rotor servos and the stationary swashplate were found loose in the wreckage and contained clevis connections with the attaching hardware. The tail rotor push-pull tube was fractured at the tailboom to main fuselage interface. The push-pull tube was continuous to the idler link above the servo. Control continuity was established up to the
servo. At the forward end of the servo, the connections from the sides of the servo to the connecting link (at the forward end) were fractured and melted. The servo exhibited thermal damage.

A remnant of the push-pull tube for tail rotor control was observed underneath the transmission deck. The tube exhibited a fracture at the aft end with thermal damage. The tube was continuous under the transmission deck and thermally damaged and fractured at its forward end.

The right (pilot) side cyclic pitch control and collective pitch control were found in the remains of the cockpit. The cyclic pitch control grip was melted, but the stick was still connected at the base. The collective pitch control was disconnected, and fractured near its base. The left (observer) and right collective stick attachment points remained connected to the collective jackshaft, which was connected to the mixing unit. The left and right cyclic attachment points remained connected to the lateral jackshaft. The lateral push-pull tube was thermally damaged and had a small fracture on a portion of its tube, but was continuous. The lower portion of the left cyclic vertical push-pull tube (going up to the servo) rod end was connected at the mixer, but its tube was fractured and thermally damaged. The remainder of the tube was not observed. The lower portion of the collective vertical push-pull tube was fractured at the thread end of the tube. The remainder of the tube was not observed. The lower portion of the right cyclic vertical push-pull tube was fractured above the rod end threads. The tube showed evidence of impact marks. The remainder of the tube was not observed.

Control continuity was established between the cyclic pitch control to the mixing unit. The tail rotor fore-aft push-pull tube (routed under collective stick) was continuous back to the bellcrank (underneath the mixing unit). The bellcrank was attached to the structure, and the vertical push-pull tube was fractured at the lower rod end threads. The vertical push-pull tube exhibited thermal damage. The fore-aft push-pull tube was continuous up to the forward bellcrank. The lateral push-pull tubes from the left and right pedal sets were connected to the forward bellcrank.

The pedal travel limiter was installed but exhibited impact damage to its lower surface, and the cam was present. The pedal travel limiter emergency release was found in the cockpit but was thermally damaged. The copper safety wire remained intact.

The right pedal set was loose in the wreckage. The lateral push-pull tube was fractured in overload. The left pedal set remained installed in the cockpit but its lateral push-pull tube was fractured in overload. The pedals were consistent with being "locked out," and the left seat cyclic pitch control, and collective pitch control were found in the rear baggage compartment as required by VSP when an observer was seated in the left seat.

During the examinations, no evidence was observed to suggest that the accident was the result of a mid-air collision involving another aircraft, animal, or object.

The wreckage was retained by the National Transportation Safety Board for further examination.

According to FAA airworthiness records and helicopter maintenance records, the helicopter was manufactured in 2000. The helicopter's most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on August 3, 2017. At the time of the accident, the helicopter had accrued approximately 6,000 total hours of operation.

The pilot, a VSP Lieutenant, joined the aviation unit in 1999. In December 2012, he became the commander of the aviation unit. According to FAA airman and pilot records, he held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for rotorcraft-helicopter, as well as a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine, airplane multi-engine, rotorcraft-helicopter, instrument airplane, and instrument helicopter. He also possessed a remote pilot certificate with a rating for small unmanned aircraft systems. He had accrued approximately 5,831 total hours of flight time, 2,704.6 of which were in helicopters. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on August 19, 2016.

The observer, a VSP Trooper, joined the aviation unit in July 2017. According to FAA airman records, he held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He had accrued approximately 97 total hours of flight time. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on May 12, 2017.

The reported weather at CHO, located 7 nautical miles north-northeast of the accident site, at 1653, included: wind 190° at 6 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, with a thunderstorm in the vicinity, clear skies, temperature 30° C, dew point 22° degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.87 inches of mercury. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: BELL
Registration: N31VA
Model/Series: 407
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Virginia State Police
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: CHO, 644 ft msl
Observation Time: 1653 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 7 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 22°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots, 190°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.87 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (CHO)
Destination: CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (CHO) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 38.034167, -78.529444

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

 The pilot of a Virginia State Police helicopter that crashed Saturday, Lt. H. Jay Cullen, is survived by his wife and two sons, authorities said. The helicopter had been monitoring the clashes in Charlottesville when it crashed in a wooded area outside the city.



 Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, who would have turned 41 on Sunday, leaves behind his wife, son and daughter. 



Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Charlestown, West Virginia
Rolls Royce; Indianapolis, Indiana 

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

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

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

NTSB Identification: ERA10TA261

14 CFR Public Aircraft
Accident occurred Tuesday, May 11, 2010 in Abingdon, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/23/2012
Aircraft: BELL 407, registration: N31VA
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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


The certified flight instructor (CFI) was providing aircraft orientation training for the commercially rated pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the public aircraft flight. About 7 minutes into the flight, while enroute to practice confined area operations at a field about 3 miles from the helicopter base, the crew heard an unusual noise from the engine compartment. About 250 feet above the targeted field, the crew heard a louder noise, and the engine surged twice before ceasing to develop power. The CFI then conducted an autorotation to the sloping terrain below. The helicopter sustained substantial damage, which included fuselage crushing and the partial loss of one vertical stabilizer. Data downloaded from the engine control unit revealed an overtemperature fault indication; the engine was then removed and shipped to the engine manufacturer's facility for a detailed examination. A circular metal deflector plate, which was normally affixed to the aft end of the combustion chamber liner, was found fragmented in the turbine section. The turbine blades and vanes exhibited significant damage, which resulted from the deflector plate's release into the gas path. Metallurgical analysis of the combustion chamber liner revealed that the required circumferential fillet weld between the liner and the deflector plate had not been performed; only the preliminary positioning welds attached the deflector plate to the liner, and those welds failed during normal engine operation. 


Maintenance records indicated that the liner had accumulated about 158 hours in service since its overhaul and reinstallation. The liner overhaul included replacement of the deflector plate; the replacement was accomplished by a repair facility that was not authorized to conduct that procedure and that also did not possess the applicable guidance. The investigation was unable to determine the specifics of why the repair facility replaced, inspected, and approved the deflector plate. Although 19 months had transpired between the improper repair and the liner's failure, the investigation did not locate any information that indicated that either the repair facility or the Federal Aviation Administration principal maintenance inspector for the repair facility was aware that maintenance personnel at the repair facility had accomplished a procedure that it was not authorized to conduct. The repair facility identified 19 other assemblies that had a known or suspected improper repair, recalled those assemblies, and no additional in-service failures occurred. The engine manufacturer subsequently modified its overhaul manual to clarify the relevant repair and replacement procedures.


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:


The improper repair of an engine component by a repair facility, which resulted in a complete loss of engine power. Contributing to the accident was the failure of the repair facility to recognize that an improper repair had been accomplished, which allowed the component to be placed into service.


HISTORY OF FLIGHT 

On May 11, 2010, about 1335 eastern daylight time, a Bell 407 helicopter, N31VA, operated by the Virginia State Police, was substantially damaged during an emergency landing following an engine failure and autorotation near Virginia Highlands Airport (VJI), Abingdon, Virginia. The certificated flight instructor (CFI) and the commercial pilot were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the public use instructional flight. 

According to the crew, who were both Virginia State Police (VSP) officers, they and the helicopter were based at VJI. The purpose of the flight was to provide aircraft orientation training for the pilot. The pilot conducted one takeoff and landing at VJI, and then proceeded to the northwest to practice confined area operations at a field about 3 miles from VJI. When the flight was enroute to the practice field, the crew heard a noise that they described as a "very low growl" coming from the engine compartment. As they approached the field at an altitude of about 250 feet above ground level (agl) and a speed of 80 knots, they heard a "very loud growl," and the engine "surged" twice. The "FADEC DEGRADE" caution light illuminated, and an aural "ENGINE OUT" alert sounded. The CFI informed the pilot that he was taking control of the helicopter, and then initiated a 180 degree right turn, and an autorotation to the field. At about 50 feet agl, the CFI flared the helicopter, and then landed it. The helicopter bounced one time and came to rest on a "slight slope" in the field, with the right skid on the uphill side. The crew shut down the helicopter and exited normally. The pilot reported that the flight duration was seven minutes.

Two days after the accident, the helicopter was recovered to a Bell Helicopter completion and maintenance facility. The engine, including the electronic control unit (ECU) and fuel control, was removed and shipped to the Rolls-Royce facility in Indianapolis, Indiana for detailed examination and testing. Since the helicopter was a public use aircraft, a week after the accident, the VSP formally requested that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) "conduct a formal investigation" into the accident. 

PERSONNEL INFORMATION 

Pilot and FAA records indicated that the CFI held an airline transport pilot certificate, with several ratings, including rotorcraft-helicopter, and a flight instructor certificate with rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument helicopter ratings. The CFI's most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued in July 2009, and his most recent flight review was completed in August 2008. He reported that he had 3,278 total hours of flight experience, which included 2,316 hours in helicopters, of which 1,100 hours were in the accident helicopter make and model.

Pilot and FAA records indicated that the pilot held a commercial certificate, with several ratings, including rotorcraft-helicopter, and instrument helicopter. The pilot's most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued in April 2010. He reported that he had accumulated approximately 4,328 total hours of flight experience, which included 4,007 hours in helicopters, of which 147 hours were in the accident helicopter make and model.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION 

According to FAA records, the helicopter was manufactured in 2000, and was first registered to the Commonwealth of Virginia in January 2001. Examination of the maintenance records revealed that the records system utilized three separate hour-tracking categories, as well as an engine "cycles" value. The three hour-tracking categories were "Hobbs," "Aircraft TT (total time)," and "Engine TT." Examination of the records from October 2009 to the date of the accident indicated a constant difference between the aircraft and engine TT values; the aircraft TT value was 198.0 hours more than the engine TT value. In contrast, the Hobbs value did not maintain a constant difference from those values, but was about 43 hours more than the aircraft value.

The helicopter was equipped with a Rolls-Royce 250-C47B engine. According to the maintenance records, the most recent annual inspection was completed in October 2009. The most recent 50 hour/3 month airframe inspection was completed on April 20, 2010, and the most recent 150 hour engine inspection was completed the following day. As of those two latter inspections, the aircraft TT was about 3,887 hours, the engine TT was about 3,689 hours, and the engine had accumulated 6,631 cycles. The helicopter and engine accumulated about 14.5 hours between those inspections and the accident. 

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION 

The VJI 1343 recorded weather observation included wind from 200 degrees at 10 knots, with gusts to 18 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 3,700 feet agl, broken cloud layers at 4,200 and 5,000 feet agl, temperature 21 degrees C, dew point 12 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.20 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION 

Representatives from the FAA and Rolls-Royce arrived at the accident scene the day after the accident. They reported that both landing skids were splayed in the outboard direction, and that the right skid exhibited more deformation than the left skid. The upper 3 inches of the left vertical stabilizer was missing, and one main rotor blade had paint transfer marks consistent with stabilizer contact. The tail skid and tail rotor blades were intact. The forward-looking infrared (FLIR) turret that was mounted on the underside of the fuselage below the left rear seat was pushed up, and penetrated the cabin floor. The "Night Sun" lamp that was mounted on the underside of the fuselage, below the left front seat, was damaged, but did not penetrate the cabin. The remainder of the airframe, main rotor and tail rotor were otherwise intact. Movement of cockpit controls confirmed continuity to all control surfaces.

The helicopter had approximately 790 pounds of fuel on board at the time of the event. All fuel, lubrication, and pneumatic lines were checked for damage, continuity and security; all were intact. The engine was found securely in position, with all attaching hardware in place and secure. A visual inspection of the engine exterior did not reveal any damage. 

Checks were then made of the N1 and N2 drive trains. Motoring of the engine to approximately 10 percent rpm resulted in smooth and continuous rotation from the starter generator to the compressor. Rotation of the main rotor head showed resultant smooth and continuous rotation to the No.4 power turbine wheel. No attempt to start the engine was made. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Engine Data Recorder

According to the Rolls-Royce representative, the ECU was equipped two separate non-volatile memory (NVM) units, known as the "maintenance terminal" (MT), and the "incident recorder" (IR). The MT recorded discrete events relevant for maintenance purposes, and the IR recorded time history data of engine parameters. The IR recording was designed to start whenever a "trigger" (parameter exceedance) was detected; the recording would capture data from 12 seconds prior to the trigger, and continue after the trigger.

Visual examination of the ECU found it to be securely in position, with its data connectors in place. The ECU NVM data were downloaded. Examination of the data revealed that two "engine surge" events were captured in the "Last Engine Run Fault" section of the recording. Also, the "Accumulated Faults" data revealed only one temperature exceedance. That value was a gas temperature exceedance of 1.25 seconds duration, with a maximum temperature of 1,712.9 degrees F. The exceedance did not have a time-of-occurrence associated with it, but it was the opinion of the Rolls-Royce representative that it most likely occurred during the engine anomaly/fault event.

The Rolls-Royce Maintenance Manual (MM, Sec 72-00-00 p 20) required the following:
During engine starts, gas temperatures between 1,700 and 1,830 degrees require an inspection of the turbine, and entries in the engine maintenance records (including temperature and duration)
During power transients, any gas temperatures above 1,661 degrees requires that the turbine be removed for "heavy [maintenance] or overhaul"

No previous engine overspeed or overtemp exceedance events were noted in the engine maintenance records.

Detailed Engine Examination

On June 10, 2010 an engine investigation was conducted at the Rolls-Royce facility. In attendance was an FAA inspector, and representatives of Rolls Royce, VSP, and Bell Helicopter. 

Visual examination of the compressor module exterior revealed no damage. When rotated manually, the compressor exhibited smooth operation, both before and after separation from the accessory gear box. Disassembly and inspection of the compressor front support, compressor rear support, impeller, and compressor shroud revealed no damage.

Prior to separation of the engine modules, manual rotation of both the N1 and N2 drive trains at the tachometer generator pads revealed smooth and continuous rotation of the N1 and N2 gear trains through the accessory gear box. Visual examination of the gearbox interior revealed that it contained clean oil, and no damage was noted.

The outer combustion case and both air discharge tubes were properly positioned, and no external damage was noted. Removal of the outer combustion case revealed a metal strip, approximately 2 inches long, lodged between the basket and the inner wall of the outer combustion case. A second, similar metal strip was observed bent around, and lodged in, one of the dilution holes of the combustion liner. Visual examination of the interior of the combustion liner revealed no unusual streaking, or other evidence of thermal damage. The support plate (the "-6" component in the manufacturer's Illustrated Parts Catalog (IPC), commonly referred to as the "deflector plate"), which was normally located at the aft end of the combustion liner, was absent.

Examination of the turbine module revealed heavy metallic spatter across the aft face of the No.1 nozzle shield, and a smearing of a yellow substance around the outer rim of that nozzle shield. A foreign strip of metal was found bent around a first stage nozzle vane saddle. The No.1 nozzle exhibited discoloration of the vane surfaces consistent with excessive thermal exposure. Several turbine vanes and the No.1 turbine wheel of the gas producer section exhibited foreign object impact damage. All the turbine blades were damaged, and four blades were missing the majority of their airfoil length. 

The No.2 turbine wheel exhibited metal spatter across the blade surfaces with foreign object impact damage to many blade leading edges. The No.2 turbine nozzle exhibited nicks across the leading edges of several vanes. The trailing edges of approximately 20 percent of the vanes exhibited thermal damage consistent with over-temperature. Metal spatter was noted across the vane surfaces. The Nos.3 and 4 turbine wheels all exhibited nicking across the blade leading edges, and light spatter across the blade surfaces.

The lower chip detector was clear of any metallic particles; the upper chip detector exhibited light metallic particles or slivers. All other engine components appeared normal and undamaged.

Combustion Liner History

The combustion section consisted of an outer combustion case and an inner combustion liner. The liner was supported at the forward end by the gas producer nozzle vane assembly, and at the aft end by the fuel nozzle, which was mounted in the aft end of the outer combustion case. 

Review of the helicopter and engine maintenance records indicated that the accident combustion liner (part number 23064570, serial number PHI-0020) was originally manufactured by Rolls-Royce. In 2008, the liner was sent to Cadorath Aerospace Lafayette LLC (CAL LLC) for inspection, with the possibility for overhaul if required. At that time, CAL LLC was a Rolls-Royce designated "authorized repair facility." 

According to the repair facility's work order "traveler" document, the liner was received and visually inspected. Subsequent detailed inspection revealed that the liner did not conform to the inspection criteria, and was therefore rejected, which denoted that it was no longer an airworthy component. The document indicated that cracks were present in the liner and the deflector plate, and that attempts to weld-repair those cracks were unsuccessful. The document also indicated that the liner was partially disassembled, a new deflector plate and associated spacers were installed, and the liner was reassembled. The liner disassembly and re-assembly process included cutting, machining, brazing and welding. In October 2009, when the engine had a TT of 3,544.9 hours, its combustion liner was removed, and the overhauled combustion liner was installed.

Combustion Liner Repair Details

As noted above, the combustion liner deflector plate, which normally surrounded the fuel nozzle boss, was found absent from its normal position. Failure analysis of the remaining liner revealed that the required circumferential fillet weld between the liner and the deflector plate was not performed during the repair at overhaul; only the plug (positioning) welds were present to affix the deflector plate to the liner. The combustion liner was approved for return to service on October 24, 2008. The TT on the combustion liner could not be determined, but at the time of its failure, it had accumulated 158.4 hours since overhaul and installation in the accident engine. The manufacturer's MM-specified "recommended time between overhaul" (TBO) for the combustion liner was "On Condition," which the MM explained as the component "May remain in service provided operation and condition are satisfactory." 

The engine manufacturer's maintenance documentation, included the Overhaul Manual (OHM), the Overhaul Procedures (OHP) manual, the Parts Repair Procedures Letters (PRPL) and the Illustrated Parts Catalog (IPC). The OHM provided top-level repair information, and specific guidance was contained in the OHP and PRPL. Examination of those documents revealed that while the engine manufacturer permitted the deflector plate to be replaced, there was no specific guidance for that procedure in the OHP or PRPL, and therefore the repair facility was not authorized to conduct that procedure. In addition, the repair facility did not possess the applicable guidance for replacement of the deflector plate. The investigation was unable to determine the specifics of how or why the repair facility replaced the deflector plate, and then inspected and approved that replacement. 

Although the combustion liner was approved for return to service by the repair facility about 19 months prior to its failure, the investigation did not locate any information that indicated that either the repair facility or the FAA principal maintenance inspector (PMI) for the repair facility was aware that the repair facility had accomplished a procedure that it was not authorized to conduct. In addition, there was no evidence to indicate that the FAA or the repair facility attempted to remove the subject combustion liner from service prior to its failure.

On December 21, 2010, after the repair facility was advised of the deflector plate failure mode due to the improper repair, the repair facility identified other assemblies which had a known or suspected improper repair, and recalled those assemblies from their customers. That action was accomplished by means of a repair-facility-issued "Urgent Stop Use and Product Recall Notice," which listed a total of 19 units. 

On March 24, 2011, the engine manufacture sent a "letter of finding" to the repair facility. The letter formally advised the facility that the deflector plate replacement was not an authorized procedure per OHP 72-40-14-01, and provided details regarding the deficiencies of the repair facility's procedures as executed. The letter instructed the facility not to conduct any such repairs in the future, to identify and recall any previously-affected combustion liners, and to notify the manufacturer once all suspected liners were successfully recalled. The FAA PMI was notified of those findings and actions. On April 18, 2011, the repair facility informed the engine manufacturer in writing that all 19 suspected combustion liners had been successfully recalled, and that no additional in-service failures had occurred.

In September 2011, the engine manufacturer modified section 72-40-00 of its OHM to more clearly state that replacement of the deflector plate by a repair station could only be accomplished by replacement of the next-higher assembly, the pre-ignition sub-assembly.

RICHMOND, Va. — Funeral arrangements have been finalized for Virginia State Police Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, who died in a helicopter crash in Albemarle County on Saturday.

Cullen, of Midlothian, Virginia, and Bates, of Quinton, Virginia, were in a VSP Bell 407 helicopter that crashed in a wooded area near a residence on Old Farm Road, according to the VSP. The helicopter was assisting public safety resources with the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. Both died at the scene.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the state police are investigating the cause of the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration is also investigating the incident.

Funeral arrangements are as follows:


TROOPER-PILOT BERKE M.M. BATES


Visitation – Aug. 17 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Nelson Funeral Home, 4650 South Laburnum Avenue in Richmond;

Funeral – Aug. 18 at 11:00 a.m. at Saint Paul’s Baptist Church, 4247 Creighton Road in Richmond. The interment will be a private graveside service.

LIEUTENANT H. JAY CULLEN

Visitation – Aug. 18 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Bennett Funeral Home, 14301 Ashbrook Parkway in Chesterfield;

Funeral – Aug. 19 at 10 a.m. at Southside Church of the Nazarene, 6851 Courthouse Road in Chesterfield. The interment will be a private graveside service.

For those wishing to support the Cullen and/or Bates families financially, contributions are being accepted through the Virginia State Police Association Emergency Relief Fund. Monetary donations can be made by check (made payable to VSPA-ERF with “Jay Cullen” and/or “Berke Bates” noted in the memo) or through PayPal by visiting vspa.org/initiatives/emergency-relief-fund.

When donating through PayPal note that the donation is for "Lt. Cullen and/or Tpr. Bates" in the comment section. Checks can be mailed to the VSPA ERF at 6944 Forest Hill Avenue, Richmond, VA 23225. All donations to the VSPA-ERF are tax deductible, and 100 percent of the donation goes to the families. For any additional questions, please contact the VSPA at 804-320-6272.


Robby Noll was outside doing yard work Saturday when he said he looked up and saw the helicopter.


ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. -- A man who said he saw a Virginia State Police helicopter crash outside Charlottesville said it sounded like the helicopter experienced a mechanical problem before it fell to the ground killing the two men inside.

Robby Noll was outside doing yard work Saturday when he said he looked up and saw the helicopter.

"It was very apparent that the pilot was trying to gain control of the craft," Noll said. "It appeared to honestly invert to turn upside down."

Noll said he watched helplessly as the Bell 407 helicopter dropped vertically tail down.

"It lost some parts, [they] seemed to fly off, and then it came down relatively quickly," he said. "Frankly I was a little shaken."

The Virginia State Police helicopter was flying over the Charlottesville-area assisting with public safety at the Charlottesville protests.

The troopers who were killed in the crash were identified as Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, from Midlothian, Va., and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates from New Kent. Trooper Bates would have celebrated his 41st birthday on Sunday.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jay and Berke, both of whom were our close friends and trusted members of our team. Jay has flown us across the commonwealth for more than three and a half years. Berke was devoted to our entire family as part of our Executive Protective Unit team for the past three years," Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said. "This is a devastating loss for their families, the Virginia State Police, and the entire commonwealth. Our hearts go out to their wives and children, and we stand by to support them during this difficult time. These heroes were a part of our family and we are simply heartbroken."

President Donald Trump also offered his condolences in a tweet to the "families and fellow officers of the Virginia state police who died today."

Sources familiar with the operation said state police were filming the Charlottesville protests from the helicopter.

The helicopter crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Virginia State Police indicated foul play was not suspected in the crash.

Interstate processional honors troopers killed in Charlottesville helicopter crash

An emotional scene played out along Interstate 64 Saturday night as the bodies of two Virginia State Police troopers who died in a helicopter crash in Charlottesville were transported home to Richmond.

Law enforcement, firefighters and other observers gathered on overpasses along the interstate to honor the troopers.

As the processional neared, state troopers temporarily blocked the interstate's on ramps, as is procedure to keep traffic back from the official escort.

Lt. Cullen graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in May 1994 as a member of the 90th Basic Session. He first joined the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit in 1999.

Cullen is survived by his wife and two sons.

Trooper-Pilot Bates graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in August 2004 as a member of the 107th Basic Session. He had just transferred to the Aviation Unit as a Trooper-Pilot in July.

Bates is survived by his wife, a son, and a daughter.


http://wtvr.com





Virginia State Police lost the commander of its 33-year-old aviation unit in the helicopter crash in Albemarle County on Saturday after violent protests in Charlottesville.

Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian was the pilot of the Bell 407 helicopter that crashed at 4:51 p.m. on Saturday near Old Farm Road and was engulfed in flames. Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, of Quinton, who previously had served on Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s protection unit, died at the scene.

The helicopter was one of two State Police choppers that had been circling over Charlottesville as violence broke out before the scheduled white nationalist rally and after police canceled the event as an unlawful assembly.

"They were simply assisting the ground resources by forwarding them the aerial optics,” said State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller, who said fights were breaking out between the rally participants and counterprotesters in a wide radius around the site of the protest.

“We were able to identify hot spots and deploy resources,” Geller said.

Cullen had become commander of the Aviation Unit in February after first joining it in 1999. Bates had transferred to the unit in July from the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

State police established the Aviation Unit in 1984 to conduct search and rescue, law enforcement and medical evacuation missions. The unit operates from bases in Chesterfield County, Lynchburg and Abingdon. A fourth base in Manassas closed in 2009. State Police also operates its Med-Flight and Medvac aviation operations from the bases in Chesterfield and Abingdon.

The unit operates four Bell 407 helicopters, two American Eurocopter EC145 helicopters and three Cessna fixed-wing aircraft. Geller said the unit employs three full-time mechanics and exceeds the Federal Aviation Administration’s minimum requirements for maintenance.

Cullen and Bates had routinely flown McAuliffe and administration officials on state business, but Fairfax County police transported the governor to Charlottesville on Saturday for an afternoon news conference because the state police helicopters weren’t available, Geller confirmed.

Fairfax police said in a news release on Saturday that its helicopter flew McAuliffe to Charlottesville from Northern Virginia on Saturday.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with our (state police) family as well as the families of both troopers who died while serving and protecting the community," Fairfax police said in a statement.

McAuliffe and his wife, Dorothy, took the loss personally because of the time they spent with Cullen and Bates, who had been part of the governor’s executive protection unit for three years.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jay and Berke, both of whom were our close friends and trusted members of our team," the McAuliffes said in a statement.

"This is a devastating loss for their families, the Virginia State Police, and the entire commonwealth. Our hearts go out to their wives and children, and we stand by to support them during this difficult time. These heroes were a part of our family and we are simply heartbroken."


Article and comments  ➤  http://www.richmond.com





Virginia State Police stated, "formally established Jan. 1, 1984, the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit’s primary mission is to provide aircraft for search, rescue, law enforcement and medical evacuation missions through its three Aviation Bases located in Chesterfield County, Lynchburg and Abingdon.

The unit is staffed by Trooper-Pilots, all of whom are sworn members of the Department, are qualified “Police Pilots,” and have private pilots’ licenses. 

The Trooper-Pilots are trained in-house on VSP aircraft, which include four Bell 407 helicopters, two American Eurocopter EC145 helicopters, and three Cessna fixed-wing aircraft. 

The unit also employs three full-time mechanics for its fleet and exceeds minimum FAA maintenance requirements. 

In 2015, the Aviation Unit totaled 2,784 flight hours and assisted with 26 criminal arrests, 36 missing persons located and three escapee apprehensions. The unit fielded 3,008 flight requests in 2015."




For Trooper Berke Bates, who grew up in Nokesville, joining the Virginia State Police aviation unit was a “dream come true,” his older brother said Sunday morning.

“He always wanted to be an aviator, he had taken private pilot lessons and become a fixed-wing pilot,” Craig Bates said. “Less than a month ago he was accepted into aviation. I talked to him the day he graduated and he was so excited.”

Shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday, a state police helicopter assisting officers on the ground with the riotous scene in Charlottesville crashed in a wooded area not far from downtown. Bates, along with pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, were both killed.

Bates would have turned 41 today. He leaves behind his wife, 11-year-old twins -- a son and daughter -- his parents and his big brother.

“Berke was doing what he always wanted to do, he wanted to help people, that’s what led him to become a state trooper in first place,” Craig Bates said.

The Bates brothers grew up off Aden Road in Nokesville. Their father Robert worked with Naval Systems Command, which brought the family to Northern Virginia when Berke was 2 years old. He graduated from Brentsville District High School in 1994, then followed in his older brother’s footsteps to the University of Tennessee, where both played hockey.

Bates began his law-enforcement career as a Florida Highway Patrolman, but he was a Virginian through and through, and wanted to come home, his brother said.

He went through his second round of law-enforcement training at the Virginia State Police Academy, graduating with the 107th Basic Session in August 2004.

For the past three years, he served on the Executive Protection Unit for Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who considered him a close friend.

“These heroes were part of our family and we are simply heartbroken,” McAuliffe said Saturday evening.

Bates joined the aviation unit as a trooper-pilot last month and was flying with a fellow police veteran Saturday. Cullen had been a state trooper since 1994 and joined the aviation unit in 1999.

In a small-world aside, Craig Bates – who now lives in Knoxville, Tennessee along with his parents – learned that Cullen’s father also lives in the Knoxville area.

“The only I thing tell people, and I spent the night with my folks last night to help take care of them, keep our families in your thoughts and prayers, keep your family close. You never know what can happen,” Craig Bates said.

The family had planned to travel up from Tennessee to celebrate Berke Bates’ birthday. Instead they will be returning to Virginia for his funeral.

“He was the best younger brother,” Craig Bates said. “My parents and myself, my wife and kids, his wife and kids, we’re all proud of what he accomplished, and had left to accomplish. We just want to honor him and his memory.”

http://www.fauquier.com




The pilot of a Virginia State Police helicopter and a fellow trooper died when the aircraft, which had been monitoring Saturday’s clashes in Charlottesville, crashed in a wooded area outside the city.

The pilot, Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48 years old, is survived by his wife and two sons, authorities said. Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, who would have turned 41 on Sunday, leaves behind his wife, son and daughter.

The helicopter went down shortly before 5 p.m. ET Saturday. State and federal authorities are investigating. The State Police said there is no indication of foul play.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jay and Berke, both of whom were our close friends and trusted members of our team,” Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and his wife Dorothy said in a statement. “Jay has flown us across the commonwealth for more than three and a half years. Berke was devoted to our entire family as part of our Executive Protective Unit team for the past three years.”

“These heroes were a part of our family and we are simply heartbroken,” the McAuliffes said.

“We lost 2 great friends and patriots today,” Mr. McAuliffe also said in a Twitter post. “Berke and Jay will be greatly missed. TY for your service to VA.”

Other state political figures also weighed in. “Simply heartbroken about the deaths” in Charlottesville and Albemarle, Democratic State Sen. Creigh Deeds said in a Twitter post.

Lt.  Cullen had been with the aviation unit since 1999. Trooper-Pilot Bates transferred to the unit in July.

“Our state police and law enforcement family at-large are mourning this tragic outcome to an already challenging day,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, the superintendent of the State Police.


Original article can be found here ➤  https://www.wsj.com



RICHMOND – Virginia State Police are investigating a helicopter crash in Albemarle County.

Shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 12), a Virginia State Police helicopter crashed into a wooded area near a residence on Old Farm Road. 

The Bell 407 helicopter was assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville.

The pilot, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Va., and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Va., died at the scene.

No one on the ground was injured.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation at this time by state police, the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board. There is no indication of foul play being a factor in the crash.

“Our state police and law enforcement family at-large are mourning this tragic outcome to an already challenging day,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent.

“Lieutenant Cullen was a highly-respected professional aviator and Trooper-Pilot Bates was a welcome addition to the Aviation Unit, after a distinguished assignment as a special agent with our Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Their deaths are a tremendous loss to our agency and the Commonwealth.”

Lieutenant Cullen graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in May 1994 as a member of the 90th Basic Session. He first joined the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit in 1999. Lieutenant Cullen is survived by his wife and two sons.

Trooper-Pilot Bates would have turned 41 years old Sunday, Aug. 13. He graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in August 2004 as a member of the 107th Basic Session. He had just transferred to the Aviation Unit as a Trooper-Pilot in July. Trooper-Pilot Bates is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.






CHARLOTTESVILLE — A Virginia State Police helicopter helping law enforcement officers monitor the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville crashed in Albemarle County on Saturday, killing the two people on board.

The pilot, Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, and trooper-pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, flying a Bell 407 helicopter, died at the scene, according to state police.

The cause of the crash, which was in a wooded area near a residence on Old Farm Road, is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board, but there is no indication of foul play, state police said Saturday night.

“Our state police and law enforcement family at large are mourning this tragic outcome to an already challenging day,” said Col. W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police superintendent. “Lieutenant Cullen was a highly respected professional aviator and trooper-pilot Bates was a welcome addition to the Aviation Unit, after a distinguished assignment as a special agent with our Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Their deaths are a tremendous loss to our agency and the commonwealth.”

Gov. Terry McAuliffe and first lady Dorothy McAuliffe released a statement Saturday night saying, “These heroes were part of our family, and we are simply heartbroken.”

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jay and Berke, both of whom were our close friends and trusted members of our team,” the statement said. “Jay has flown us across the commonwealth for more than three and a half years. Berke was devoted to our entire family as part of our Executive Protective Unit team for the past three years.”

The two victims were the only people on board the helicopter and there were no injuries to anyone on the ground, state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.

Police were notified of the crash at 4:54 p.m.

“Albemarle County police and fire responded first,” said Geller, standing a few hundred yards from the crash site. “They located the wreckage of a helicopter in the woods near a residence off Old Farm Road, at the very end of the roadway. It was fully engulfed. And at this time we do have two confirmed fatalities. State law in Virginia says that the Virginia State Police has to investigate all aircraft crashes so that’s why we responded to the scene.”

Geller said the aircraft was not the state police helicopter seen circling above Saturday’s white nationalist rally in downtown Charlottesville, a gathering at which a car was driven into a group of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19.

President Donald Trump expressed his sympathies to the state police on Twitter:

“Deepest condolences to the families & fellow officers of the VA State Police who died today. You’re all among the best this nation produces.”

Story and photo gallery: http://www.richmond.com



ALBEMARLE COUNTY - Meta Chisholm was in her kitchen making dinner when she looked out her window onto Old Farm Road and saw that the street had turned blue. 

Dozens of police cars were parked outside of her house, the last on a neighborhood road. Chisholm didn't know what was going on. She didn't hear the helicopter crash in a wooded area up the road from her. 

Police are investigating a double-fatal helicopter crash west of Charlottesville following today's protests downtown.

Officials say the deaths of the two Virginia State Troopers in the crash have been linked to the violent white nationalist rally earlier in the day, according to the Associated Press. 

The crash occurred shortly before 5 p.m., and the pilot, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, 40, of Quinton, both died at the scene, according to police.

The Bell 407 helicopter "was assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville" when it went down in a wooded area in Albemarle County, police said in a press release. No one on the ground was injured.

Virginia State Police, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board continue to investigate the cause of the crash, but police said "there is no indication of foul play being a factor in the crash."

“Our state police and law enforcement family at-large are mourning this tragic outcome to an already challenging day,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police superintendent. “Lieutenant Cullen was a highly-respected professional aviator and Trooper-Pilot Bates was a welcome addition to the Aviation Unit, after a distinguished assignment as a special agent with our Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Their deaths are a tremendous loss to our agency and the Commonwealth.”

Cullen was a 1994 graduate of Virginia State Police Academy, first joining the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit in 1999. He's survived by his wife and two sons.

Bates, who was about to celebrate his 41st birthday Sunday, was a 2004 Virginia State Police Academy graduate and had just transferred to the aviation unit as a trooper-pilot in July. He's survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter and seemed to say that the crash was a Virginia State Police helicopter and it was two officers killed. 

He said: "Deepest condolences to the families & fellow officers of the VA State Police who died today. You're all among the best this nation produces." 

The scene was blocked off from neighbors and media and Chisholm was in her front yard watching police activity. 

"I just thought what on Earth is going on," Chisholm said, adding that helicopters fly over her neighborhood all the time because of the the University of Virginia Medical Center just a few miles down the road. 

The site is an affluent neighborhood near Birdwood Golf Course in Albemarle County. Photos on social media purport to show the burning wreckage.

"We heard a lot of helicopters, a lot of police response," said neighbor Evan Sweat.

The site of the accident was close to the Charlottesville line. 

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.newsleader.com


Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Berke M.M. Bates