Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hughes 369HS, N9068F, Whirlwide Helicopters Inc: Fatal accident occurred September 03, 2015 in Manra Island, Kiribati

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Offices; Los Angeles, California and Honolulu, Hawaii

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

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

Registered Owner:  Whirlwide Helicopters Inc

Operator:   Whirlwide Helicopters Inc

http://registry.faa.gov/N9068F

NTSB Identification: WPR15LA257
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, September 03, 2015 in Manra Island, Kiribati
Aircraft: HUGHES 369HS, registration: N9068F
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On September 3, 2015, at 1752 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), a Hughes 369HS helicopter, N9068F, was destroyed following a forced landing into the Pacific Ocean about 300 nautical miles east of Manra Island, Republic of Kiribati. The El Salvador certificated helicopter pilot was fatally injured, the passenger sustained serious injuries. The helicopter was operated by Whirlwide Helicopters Inc., of Port Vila, Vanuatu. The local aerial observation flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, when the accident occurred. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the flight, which originated from a tuna fishing vessel 35 minutes prior to the accident.

In a written report to the NTSB, a representative from the operator stated that the pilot and passenger/spotter were conducting fish spotting duties when the accident occurred. He reported that the helicopter descended and impacted the water and rolled upside-down. The spotter was able to exit the helicopter when he observed that the pilot's life vest had deployed while inside the helicopter and the pilot was struggling to exit. He saw the pilot stop moving, but due to his injuries was unable to assist him.

A nearby fishing vessel was able to recover the pilot and the passenger but the helicopter sank and was not recovered.

Shortly after being rescued, the passenger, a Vietnamese national, reported to the fish master that "the helicopter went wrong in the air and started rolling over and fell into the water." After the passenger was transported to a hospital in Majuro, Marshall Islands, he was not available for further questioning. 

The operator reported that the flight crews are issued life vests, but that some pilots preferred to use their own vests. The accident pilot had acquired his own vest which was equipped with an auto-inflation activation system which would activate anytime the vest was submerged underwater.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial helicopter pilot certificate issued by the Republic of El Salvador on May 20, 2004, and a first-class airman medical certificate issued on November 6, 2014, with the limitations that the pilot must wear corrective lenses. The pilot's logbook was not recovered for examination. The operator reported the pilot had 5,350 total flight hours with 355 hours in make and model. No personal flight records were located for the pilot.

The pilot did not hold a pilot certificate issued by the United States Federal Aviation Administration, which is required to operate a US registered aircraft while in international airspace.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The pilot's body was transported to Majuro for further processing. The investigation was unable to obtain any results of any testing or examination of the pilot. The mechanism of his injuries, detailed postmortem information was not available.

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