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

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Richmond, Virginia

Commonwealth of Virginia

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

Rotorcraft crashed into a wooded area during public use operation. The two (2) souls on board were fatally injured.


Date: 12-AUG-17

Time: 20:50:00Z
Regis#: N31VA
Aircraft Make: BELL
Aircraft Model: B407
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: DESTROYED
Activity: PUBLIC USE
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Aircraft Operator: VIRGINIA STATE POLICE
Flight Number: VATRP1
City: CHARLOTTESVILLE
State: VIRGINIA

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.


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.





 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. 


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

3 comments:

Jim B said...


I have a lot of respect for our VA troopers.

They work 24 hours a day and are the front line of law enforcement. State Troopers often face danger alone and are outnumbered.

I once went down an embankment to check on a woman with two children who were forced off the road down into a deep ditch. The young mother was shaking like a leaf. I congratulated her on missing every tree and the solid concrete culvert nearby. It seemed to calm her a bit.

A trooper stopped as I came back up the embankment and reported to him no one hurt. He said "It does not get any better that this. We see a lot of bad stuff sometimes."

Indeed they do.

I Respect Them and Their Families.

Rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Trooper-Pilot Bates and Pilot Lt. Cullen for paying the ultimate sacrifice for the fine folks in the great state of Virginia. You are true AMERICAN heros. My thoughts and prayers are with your families, friends and co-workers. May you forever, rest in peace, my brothers.

Anonymous said...

Only those who have flown in police aviation will truly understand the risks you take. My biggest fear became your reality. I am retired now. But there isn't a day that goes by that I am not thankful to be alive. Looking back, I realized that it was the most dangerous job in law enforcement. It was a privilege to have been a part of something worthwhile. I am sorry for your loss.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." [Matthew 5:9 ESV]