Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Robinson R44, N820DF, registered to Stasys Aviation Leasing LLC and operated by Hawaii Pacific Aviation: Fatal accident occurred October 16, 2017 in Molokai, Hawaii

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Honolulu, Hawaii

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

Registered to Stasys Aviation Leasing LLC

Operated by Hawaii Pacific Aviation


NTSB Identification: WPR18LA010

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, October 16, 2017 in Molokai, HI
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44, registration: N820DF
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 16, 2017, about 1918 Hawaiian standard time, a Robinson Helicopter R44, N820DF, impacted the waters off the island of Molokai, Hawaii. The flight instructor and commercial pilot receiving instruction are missing and presumed to be fatally injured. Debris from the helicopter was observed floating on the water northwest of the shores of Molokai. The helicopter was registered to Stasys Aviation Leasing LLC., and operated by Hawaii Pacific Aviation doing business as Mauna Loa Helicopters under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed in the area at the time of the accident, and the flight was operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan. The flight originated from the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (PHNL) at an undetermined time.

Preliminary information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration indicated that Air Traffic Control cleared the flight for a practice RNAV (GPS)-B instrument approach to the Molokai Airport and provided instructions for the missed approach procedure which included instructions to climb to 4,000 feet and maintain a heading of 040 degrees. Following completion of the instrument approach and subsequent execution of the missed approach, the flight reestablished radio contact with Air Traffic Control. The controller informed the flight that radar contact was identified and subsequently issued a clearance to PHNL with instructions to fly a heading of 260 degrees and ascend to an altitude of 4,000 feet. Shortly after, the controller issued a heading change to 240 degrees to intercept the Victor 8 airway, of which the flight verified. Shortly after, the controller noticed the flight had descended to 3,600 feet before radar and radio communication with the accident helicopter was lost.

A representative from the United States Coast Guard reported that after the helicopter was reported missing, an air unit located debris and a red chemlight floating in the ocean water northwest of Molokai. The following day, another air unit from Maui Fire Department located an uninflated life jacket along the northwestern shoreline of Molokai. The search for the helicopter was suspended on the evening of October 19, 2017.

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

Jeremy Dossetter

Jeremy Dossetter, age 27, beloved son and brother, died tragically on October 16, 2017 in a helicopter crash off the coast of Molokai, Hawaii. Hundreds of brave men and women of the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and Fire Department searched for days for the downed and missing helicopter with Jeremy and his flight instructor, but, sadly, after extreme efforts, the search was called off October 19. 

Jeremy was a cherished friend to many, and a source of strength and pure happiness to his mother, Susan, father, David, and siblings Benjamin, Asher, Clara and Violetta. He had a passion for the earth, the ocean, for flying and life. He had many plans to clean and heal the world through his flying, and was literally one check ride away from being able to start to pursue that passion.

Jeremy had a smile that radiated throughout, and that was contagious. He will be excruciatingly missed by all who knew him, and it is safe to say the world will be sorely lacking this gentle, giving and passionate soul. 

A memorial service for Jeremy will be held Sunday, October 29 at 3:00 pm at Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake Street, San Francisco.

All who knew and loved Jeremy and his family are encouraged to attend.

In lieu of flowers, food or gifts, donations may be made to a fund the family has established in Jeremy's honor, The Jeremy Dossetter Living Ocean Fund.

For details, please email jdossetterlivingocean@gmail.com. 

A helicopter that crashed into the ocean off Molokai on Oct. 16 acknowledged a course change from the tower at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu before descending 400 feet to 3,600 feet and then falling out of radar and radio communication, according to a National Transportation Safety Board preliminary accident report released Thursday.

The crash of the Robinson R44 helicopter occurred at 7:18 p.m. with Jeremy Dossetter, 27, and Oliver Kirsch, 25, aboard, the NTSB and news reports said. They are missing and presumed dead, the preliminary report said.

The men departed the Honolulu airport for Molokai Airport on an instructional flight rules flight plan, the report said. The departure time was not determined.

Air traffic control at the Honolulu airport cleared the flight for a practice “missed approach procedure” on instruments to Molokai Airport, the report said. Air traffic controllers instructed the pilots to climb to 4,000 feet.

After completing the altitude adjustment and practice procedure, the pilots radioed air traffic controllers, the report said. Air traffic controllers cleared the helicopter to return to the Honolulu airport with instructions to fly a heading of 260 degrees at an altitude of 4,000 feet.

Air traffic controllers then issued a heading change to 240 degrees to align with a runway for landing, which the pilots confirmed, the report said. Shortly after that, air traffic controllers noticed the flight had descended to 3,600 feet before radar and radio communications with the helicopter were lost.

A U.S. Coast Guard air unit located debris from the helicopter and red chemlight floating on the water northwest of Molokai that night. An uninflated life jacket was found the following day along the northwestern shoreline by the Maui Fire Department.

A Molokai fisherman at Moomomi Bay told The Maui News that he saw a red blinking light plummet from the sky northwest of the island on the evening of Oct. 16.

The helicopter was registered to Stasys Aviation Leasing LLC and operated by Hawaii Pacific Aviation doing business as Mauna Loa Helicopters.

The report said visibility was 10 miles with few clouds and winds from the northeast 15 to 27 mph.

Kirsch was listed as a certified flight instructor on Mauna Loa Helicopters’ website. He grew up in the Swiss Alps and began his flying career by paragliding, according to the website.

The NTSB preliminary report identified Dossetter as a commercial pilot. An obituary notice published in the San Francisco Chronicle described him as a “cherished friend to many, and a source of strength and pure happiness to his” mother, father and siblings.

“He had a passion for the earth, the ocean, for flying and life,” the notice said. “He had many plans to clean and heal the world through his flying and was literally one check ride away from being able to start to pursue that passion.”

MOLOKAI (HawaiiNewsNow) -  Rescue crews continued their search Tuesday for a downed chopper near Molokai by air and sea, but the whereabouts of the two on board remain unknown. 

Multiple agencies are working together to conduct search efforts.

Tuesday morning, the Maui Fire Department's Air 1 recovered an uninflated life vest floating on the water's surface about 100 yards from shore and a mile east of Ilio Point, officials said. 

The vest was eventually turned over to the Coast Guard for proper identification, and no other debris has been found. 

Maui fire officials also said a man fishing Monday night at Moomomi Beach witnessed the aircraft go down. He described what he saw as "a red beacon of an aircraft" that descended rapidly to the ocean and then it disappeared in the direction of Molokai's Ilio point.

The chopper, which was on its way back to Honolulu with a flight student and instructor on board, was from Mauna Loa Helicopters. The company is also assisting in the search.

"Our thoughts and prayers are for the people involved and their families," said company President Benjamin Fouts. "You try to prepare in the training and do the best you can in the situation you're given."

Officials said debris and chemlights were located about one and half miles from shore, but it's unclear if the items were from missing helicopter.

Coast Guard officials were notified of the suspected downed helicopter at 7:26 p.m. Monday, when it vanished from radar. 

Fouts said the two men left Honolulu about 6 p.m. Monday for a training flight to Molokai, and were supposed to return by 8 or 8:30 p.m. 

There was no mayday call, according to Mauna Loa Helicopters.

"It's just so sad, but bad weather and nighttime, that's often a formula, a recipe for tragedies," said John Corboy, a Molokai pilot who owns a Robinson R-44. "I understand there was a lull maybe at 6 o'clock when they took off, but pretty soon it was gusting back up," he said.

Fouts said the flight school's standard policy is not to allow students to fly in winds above 25 knots, which is roughly 29 miles per hour.

The Coast Guard said that crews searching for the helicopter on Monday night dealt with 30 mph winds and 12 to 15-foot seas.

On Tuesday, rescue crews were working in less than ideal conditions, with 25 mph winds and 15-foot seas.

Company officials said the student on board the flight moved to Hawaii from California about a year ago, and is close to completing the school's Professional Pilot Program which is designed to help students earn five ratings and certificates.

His teacher, officials said, is one of the most experienced at the company and has been working for Mauna Loa Helicopters for at least two years.

Amanda Levasseur, Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd class, said the helicopter is a Robinson R-44, a four-seat light helicopter.

Company officials says the R-44 is a good aircraft for training, but aviation attorney and pilot Rick Fried disagrees.

"These Robinsons are a very tricky helicopter," said Fried. "You need to be very experienced. Hughes, Bells, others, similar to that, are far easier."

Its tail number was confirmed as N820DF and, according to FAA records, it was manufactured in 2002.

In 2013, the same chopper was involved in a "precautionary landing" at Magic Island. It had a crack on the left door window, and no injuries were reported.

A Coast Guard airplane, helicopter and vessels are participating in the search along with a Navy helicopter and a Maui Fire Department chopper and ground crews.

The chopper search comes last than a year after a well-known attorney Gary Galiher and Honolulu realtor Keiko Kuroki were killed in a helicopter crash on Molokai. Weather is believed to be a factor in the crash.

In 2011, five people were killed when a tour helicopter crashed into a hillside on the east end of Molokai. Two newlyweds from Pennsylvania, a Canadian couple and the pilot were killed. Authorities said pilot error is to blame for the crash.

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