Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bell 47G-3B, N160CS, Custom Air LLC: Accident occurred October 05, 2015 in Huntsville, Walker County, Texas

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

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Houston, Texas 

Custom Air LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N160CS

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA003
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Monday, October 05, 2015 in Huntsville, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/18/2017
Aircraft: BELL 47G, registration: N160CS
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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

The commercial pilot was conducting an agricultural application flight in the helicopter. He reported that the helicopter felt "awkward" during the spray pass shortly before the event but that he thought that it was due to an uncoordinated turn. During the next spray pass, the helicopter developed a right rolling tendency, which the pilot was initially able to counter with left cyclic control. He then entered a right turn with the intention of returning to the fuel truck. Once the right turn was initiated, he applied full left and aft cyclic control input but the helicopter did not respond. The helicopter began to lose altitude, impacted the ground, and then came to rest in an open field covered with low vegetation.

The pilot reported that he did not feel any abnormal vibrations or hear any "pops" before the loss of control authority. He added that the flight went from routine to out of control in a matter of "seconds." A postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed no evidence of preimpact failures or malfunctions; however, the extent of damage to the flight control system precluded a complete examination.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's loss of helicopter control during an agricultural application pass for reasons that could not be determined due to the extent of damage to the flight control system.

On October 5, 2015, about 0805 central daylight time, a Bell 47G-3B helicopter, N160CS, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain during an aerial application pass near Huntsville, Texas. The pilot sustained minor injuries. The helicopter was registered and operated by Custom Air LLC under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as an agricultural application flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from a temporary landing site near the application field shortly before the accident.

The pilot reported that the helicopter felt "awkward" shortly before the event, but thought it was due to an uncoordinated turn. During the next spray pass, the helicopter developed a right rolling tendency, which the pilot was initially able to counter with left cyclic control. He entered a "gentle" right turn with the intention of returning to the fuel truck for a precautionary landing. However, full left cyclic control input was ultimately ineffective in countering the right rolling tendency. The right turn continued for about 150 degrees of heading change. The helicopter began to lose altitude during the turn and subsequently impacted the ground in a slight right bank, traveling about 40 yards before coming to rest. The pilot stated that he did not feel any abnormal vibrations or hear any "pops" before the loss of control authority. He commented that the flight went from routine to out of control in a matter of "seconds."

The helicopter came to rest in an open field covered with low vegetation. A postaccident examination was conducted by Federal Aviation Administration inspectors. The windshield/canopy had separated from the fuselage, with plexiglass fragments observed at the accident site. The forward fuselage structure exhibited minor deformations and distortions; however, the integrity of the fuselage was intact. The main rotor blades remained attached to the hub; however, the rotor blades were deformed over the span of the blades. The rotor hub remained attached to the mast and transmission. The transmission and supporting structure were dislocated from the aft fuselage/forward tailboom truss structure. The fuel tanks were separated and located with the main wreckage. The tailboom was deformed. The tail rotor transmission had separated from tail boom and was located at the accident site. The tail rotor blades remained attached to the hub. The blades exhibited tip damage but appeared otherwise intact. The flight control system components were deformed and fragmented consistent with the overall impact damage.

The postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction; however, the examination was hindered by the extent of the damage.

Grumman G-164A N6894Q, Heimgartner Aviation LLC: Accident occurred March 11, 2016 in Juliaetta, Latah County, Idaho

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Spokane, Washington

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

Heimgartner Aviation LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N6894Q

NTSB Identification: WPR16LA082 
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Friday, March 11, 2016 in Juliaetta, ID
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/23/2017
Aircraft: GRUMMAN G164, registration: N6894Q
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The commercial pilot was conducting an agricultural application flight. The pilot reported that, while maneuvering the airplane about 300 ft above ground level, the engine experienced a partial loss of power. Unable to maintain altitude, the pilot conducted an emergency landing to a field, during which the airplane landed hard and nosed over, coming to rest inverted. Postaccident examination of the engine revealed that the No. 2 cylinder head exhibited a circumferential crack of its barrel between the cooling fins.

The Federal Aviation Administration had previously issued an airworthiness directive (AD) to address cylinder head cracking on the accident model engine. The AD required periodic visual inspections for cracks in the cylinder heads at specified intervals of time in service (every 100 hours for the accident airplane). According to the engine maintenance logbooks, the AD was last complied with about 35 hours before the accident. The previous inspections to this were sporadic, indicating that neither maintenance personnel nor the owner(s) were regularly complying with the AD.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A partial loss of engine power due to a crack in the No. 2 cylinder. 

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On March 11, 2016, about 1725 Pacific standard time, an Grumman G-164A, N6894Q, experienced a partial loss of power and collided with terrain during an off airport landing in Juliaetta, Idaho. Heimgartner Aviation LLC., was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 137. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The local aerial application flight departed from a private road in Juliaetta about 1720. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and the pilot did not file a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan.

The pilot stated that the purpose of the flight was to apply 1,600 pounds of (dry) fertilizer to wheat fields. He had completed around 20 loads earlier in the day which equated to about 4 hours of flight time. The airplane departed with a half-full fuel tank and climbed to about 500 feet above ground level (agl). After configuring the airplane to the appropriate manifold pressure and turning the carburetor heat on, the pilot maneuvered the airplane toward the field he intended to spray. While in level flight, about 300 feet agl, the engine began to violently shudder and make loud backfiring noises. The engine experienced a partial loss of power. The airplane continued to descend, unable to maintain level altitude. The airplane landed hard and nosed over, coming to rest inverted.

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

The airplane, a Grumman G-164A, serial number 1730, was equipped with a Pratt and Whitney R985-AN14B engine, serial number P225620. The operator provided excerpts from the engine logbooks that included the AD lists and the last maintenance performed. The records indicated that the last annual inspection was recorded as being completed in April 2015 at a tachometer time of 5,402 hours; the tachometer time at the time of the accident was 5,435, or about 35 hours after the maintenance.

In May 1978 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) 78-08-07 applicable to Pratt & Whitney R-985 series engines. The AD required periodic visual inspections for cracks in the cylinder heads at specified intervals of time in service. According to the AD, visual inspections of the cylinder heads are required at intervals not to exceed 100 or 150 hours of time in service, depending on whether the they have been ultrasonically inspected. 

The logbook excerpts contained a document listing AD 78-08-07, which showed that the most recent compliances occurred in April 2007 and April 2015 (during which time about 1,970 flight hours accrued). The entirety of the AD list only showed 78-08-07 as being complied with in May 2001. On that list, the only AD that showed compliance thereafter was in April 2015 for the cylinder hold-down nuts as per AD 56-06-02.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

A post accident examination revealed that cylinder no. 2 was cracked around almost the entire circumference of the barrel in between cooling fins.

The carburetor, part number 391598, was examined at Precision Engines. The bench test revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Upon disassembly investigators found no debris in the main metering nozzle, float needle seat, idle metering tube, and accelerator pump; no debris was noted in the metering jets.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

According to the NTSB aviation accident database, after AD 78-08-07 became effective there were a total of 3 accidents involving Pratt and Whitney R-985 engines that had a cylinder failure.

A similar query was conducted of the FAA's Service Difficulty Report (SDR) database. Among the results, 34 of the reports documented a cylinder crack or separation as the cause of the service difficulty.

According to a representative at Covington Aircraft Engines, an aircraft engine maintenance, repair and overhaul facility that specializes in R-985 engines, they seen many cracks in cylinders. He stated that the reasons for the cracks are predominantly twofold: the carburetor is worn, resulting in the engine running too lean (creating hotspots in the cylinder); and thermal fatigue cracks from the pilot shock cooling the engine (an excessively rapid descent going from a high temperature differences within the metal and not the absolute temperature of the metal).

The Transport Canada Civil Aviation issued a Service Difficulty Advisory No. AV-2007-2 regarding R-985 cylinder heads. In pertinent part it stated, "It is very important that operators properly warm-up and cool-down the engine before and after flight. This will significantly minimize distress to the engine. It is essential that the cylinder assembly be adequately warmed up in order to "heat stretch" the cold cylinder, especially before applying high power. Failure to do so can lead to fatigue cracks and cause distress to the cylinder head and other rotating parts of the engine. Problems associated with cylinder head separation and cylinder barrel flange cracks can be minimized if attention to cylinder head temperature limitations is closely followed."

NTSB Identification: WPR16LA082 
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Friday, March 11, 2016 in Juliaetta, ID
Aircraft: GRUMMAN G164, registration: N6894Q
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 March 11, 2016, about 1725 Pacific standard time, a Grumman G-164A, N6894Q, experienced a partial loss of power and collided with terrain during an off airport landing in Juliaetta, Idaho. Heimgartner Aviation LLC., was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 137. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The local aerial application flight departed from a private road in Juliaetta about 1720. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and the pilot did not file a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan.

The pilot stated that the purpose of the flight was to apply 1,600 pounds of fertilizer to wheat fields. He had completed around 20 loads earlier in the day which equated to about 4 hours of flight time. The airplane departed with a half-full fuel tank and climbed to about 500 feet above ground level (agl). After configuring the airplane to the appropriate manifold pressure and turning the carburetor heat on, the pilot maneuvered the airplane toward the field he intended to spray. While in level flight, about 300 feet agl, the engine began to violently shudder and make loud backfiring noises. The engine experienced a partial loss of power, and the airplane was unable to maintain altitude. During the off airport forced landing, the airplane landed hard and nosed over, coming to rest inverted.

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

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

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

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

http://registry.faa.gov/N62UP 

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA190
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, May 25, 2017 in New Castle, DE
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER DEUTSCHLAND GMBH EC 135, registration: N62UP
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Helicopter pilot Michael (Mike) Murphy





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original article can be found here:  https://1philadelphia.net

Michael R. Murphy, 37, professional copter pilot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Story and video:   http://www.wdel.com

Lancair ES, N44AZ: Accident occurred March 10, 2016 at Ernest A. Love Field (KPRC), Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona
Hartzell Propeller Inc.; Piqua, Ohio

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

http://registry.faa.gov/N44AZ

NTSB Identification: WPR16LA088 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, March 10, 2016 in Prescott, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/23/2017
Aircraft: Thomas D. Parkes Lancair ES, registration: N44AZ
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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

The airline transport pilot was departing in the experimental, amateur-built airplane. During the initial climb, the engine experienced a partial loss of power. The pilot performed a precautionary landing on a taxiway, during which the airplane departed the paved surface and the nose landing gear collapsed.

Postaccident examination of the engine turbocharger revealed reddish-white discoloration of the turbine wheel, which suggested excessive engine exhaust gas temperature. Likewise, discoloration observed on the turbine end shaft journal was consistent with high temperature. The combination of high exhaust temperature and the rotational speed of the turbine wheel likely caused the blade material to creep and the wheel diameter to increase until the blade tips rubbed against the turbine housing. This eventually caused blade tip failures, which resulted in a rotating imbalance. It is likely that the combination of wheel rubbing and imbalance and caused the turbocharger to slow or stop, which in turn resulted in the loss of engine power. The reason for the excessive engine temperature could not be determined during the investigation based on the available information.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A partial loss of engine power due to an over-temperature event, which thermally damaged the blade tips of the turbocharger wheel and resulted in a slowing or stoppage in the rotation of the turbocharger.

On March 10, 2016, about 1533 mountain standard time, a Thomas Parkes Lancair ES, N44AZ, was substantially damaged following a forced landing due to a reported partial loss of engine power at Ernest A. Love Field (PRC), Prescott, Arizona. The airline transport pilot, the sole occupant and owner of the airplane, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the proposed local flight, which was being operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and a flight plan was not filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

In a report submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), the pilot reported that as he advanced the throttle for takeoff he checked the initial engine acceleration, which appeared to be normal and smooth; manifold pressure (MAP) was set at 31 inches, with normal turbocharger spool-up noted as the secondary injectors cut in during acceleration. The pilot opined that this was a normal turbo-normalized installation with a manual waste-gate spring loaded to 5 psi. The turbo relief valve was set for a maximum MAP of 3.2 psi to provide sea-level power at PRC's elevation of 5,000 ft.

The pilot reported that he lifted off about 75 to 80 knots (kts) with the engine running smoothly, but acceleration seemed to taper off as the airplane approached 100 feet above ground level. The pilot stated that the MAP was still reading 31 inches, but he needed to reduce his pitch attitude slightly to maintain 80 kts. The pilot further stated that previous experience had led him to expect a vigorous rate of climb with a manual reduction in propeller rpm, but at this point he realized that the engine had a power issue, at which time he pushed the throttle full forward. The pilot reported that he had sufficient runway to land the airplane, but without sufficient runway to stop before contacting a berm at runway's end. Additionally, he realized that there was a self-serve fueling station in his path, which prompted him to make a slight left turn in order to line up for a precautionary landing on taxiway Charlie. However, as the taxiway began slowly rising in the windscreen, he quickly altered the turn, lowered the flaps, and landed on the edge of taxiway Bravo adjacent to the ramp, missing all aircraft that were tied down in that area. The airplane quickly ran out of ramp area and impacted the rough terrain approaching taxiway Foxtrot. The pilot stated that the airplane bounced a few times before the nose gear collapsed and skidded across runway 12, coming to rest upright in the grass just beyond the runway. According to the pilot, the nose landing gear, propeller, cowling, and firewall were damaged as a result of impact with a newly installed Precision Approach Path Indicator's four vertical pipes, control boxes, and lights.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector's postaccident examination of the airplane revealed a compromised engine mount and damage to the firewall. On April 26, 2016, the NTSB IIC met with the pilot/owner at his hangar at PRC to discuss the accident, as well as to perform a cursory inspection of the engine. During the inspection, the IIC observed that the engine's crankshaft rotated freely, with no binding noted. No indications of a catastrophic engine event was observed. The pilot stated that he did not feel that there was a problem with the engine itself, however, that the issue centered around the turbocharger (serial number CCN00246, OEM part number LW-12689, part number 406610-9020).

An external examination of the turbocharger revealed hard scraping on the hot side, two blades were observed chipped, two additional blades were cracked, and the impeller was tight. The pilot reported that he initially purchased the engine in 1999 from Atkins Rotary, located in Eatonville, Washington, and that there were no historical records available for the engine. The pilot subsequently installed the turbocharger to the engine, with its first flight being in 2003. The NTSB IIC had the turbocharger removed from the engine, retained custody of the component, and on May 5, 2016, shipped the component to the facilities of Hartzell Engine Technologies, Piqua, Ohio, where a detailed examination and analysis would be performed.

On May 20, 2016, under the supervision of a FAA aviation safety inspector assigned to the FAA's Cincinnati Flight Standards District Office, Cincinnati, Ohio, a Hartzell Engine Technologies technician performed an examination of the subject turbocharger. The technician's findings revealed that the turbine wheel and blades had indications of being overtemped (EGTs greater than approximately 1,650 degrees F) and possible overspeed. The technician revealed that the reddish-white discoloration of the turbine wheel suggested excessive exhaust gas temperature, and that the discoloration of the turbine end shaft journal was consistent with excessive temperature. The technician reported that a combination of high exhaust temperature and wheel speed caused the blade material to creep (high temperature plastic deformation), and wheel diameter to increase until the blade tips rubbed against the turbine housing. The technician also reported that blade tip rub and creep eventually caused blade tip failures, which resulted in a rotating imbalance that damaged the compressor-bearing bore, compressor wheel rub, and introduced debris/particles into the oil bearings. The technician concluded that a combination of imbalance and wheel rub likely resulted in the turbocharger rotation to slow or stop, and thus the resultant loss of boost and engine power. (Refer to the Hartzell Engine Technologies Turbocharger Examination Findings report, which is appended to the docket for this accident.)

During the investigation, the pilot revealed that the airplane was equipped with an EGT gauge that would alert him when the temperature exceeded 1,600 degrees F. However, during the accident sequence he did not observe an overtemperature warning light, nor did he know when the temperature probe was last calibrated. Additionally, the pilot reported that since the accident occurred, he had sent the engine to a repair facility, which to date has not been able to determine what precipitated the overtemperature condition.

NTSB Identification: WPR16LA088
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, March 10, 2016 in Prescott, AZ
Aircraft: Thomas D. Parkes Lancair ES, registration: N44AZ
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 March 10, 2016, about 1522 mountain standard time, a Thomas D. Parkes Lancair ES, N44AZ, was substantially damaged following a forced landing due to a partial loss of power at Ernest A. Love Field (PRC), Prescott, Arizona. The airline transport rated pilot, the sole occupant of the airplane, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the proposed local flight, which was being operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and a flight plan was not filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

In a telephone interview with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge, the pilot reported that after taking off from Runway 21 and at an altitude of about 50 feet above ground level, he experienced a partial loss of engine power near taxiway C. The pilot stated that he attempted to land on the airport's north ramp at taxiway B, but during the descent the nose landing gear impacted a Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) light standard before impacting terrain and coming to rest upright between Runway 12 and the terminal ramp. The airplane was recovered to a secured location for further examination.

A Federal Aviation Administration aviation safety inspector performed a postaccident examination of the airplane on March 24, 2016. As a result of the examination, the inspector reported that the engine mount had punctured through the composite firewall. Additionally, the engine mount was observed to have sustained multiple fractures.

Marsh S-2F3AT Turbo Tracker, California Dept of Forestry and Fire Protection, N449DF: Fatal accident occurred October 08, 2014 in El Portal, California

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

NTSB Identification: WPR15GA005
14 CFR Public Aircraft
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 07, 2014 in El Portal, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/31/2017
Aircraft: MARSH AVIATION S 2F3AT, registration: N449DF
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

: NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

The airline transport pilot was conducting a visual flight rules, public firefighting retardant drop flight on an active fire. The airplane, call sign "Tanker 81," was supported by two other aircraft: an orbiting Air Tactical aircraft (ATGS) that coordinated the aerial operations with ground units and an Aerial Supervision Module (ASM) that flew ahead of the tanker to define the route and the drop initiation point. After successfully conducting one drop, Tanker 81 was reloaded with fire retardant, and it then returned to the fire area. The accident pilot coordinated his next drop with the ATGS and then followed the ASM to the drop.

According to the ASM pilot, he flew the proposed drop route and initiated smoke to show the Tanker 81 pilot the desired drop location. The route included a slight left turn to final and a right turn on exit over descending terrain. The ASM had descended to 4,000 ft msl during the run, and described a predominate tree off to the right of the flightpath as a hazard, and instructed the accident pilot to stay to the left of it. The ASM pilot also described "very clear, smooth air over the drop area." He asked the Tanker 81 pilot if he had seen the smoke and if the route looked OK to him? The Tanker 81 pilot responded that "it looked OK." The ASM then climbed to 5,100 ft msl to lead the drop run. The ASM joined the pattern on the downwind and then told the Tanker 81 pilot that he could descend to 5,100 ft msl. He continued to describe the drop and flightpath to the tanker pilot and told him that there was some thin top smoke on final but that he could see through it and that they would break out of the smoke before reaching the drop area. He added that the last response he received from the tanker pilot was when he said, "OK." 

Witnesses reported seeing the accident, and one of them provided a video that was taken from a vantage point along a mountain trail that was above Tanker 81's flightpath. The video revealed that while on approach, Tanker 81 struck trees with its left wing. Following the impact with the trees, the airplane entered a descending left roll, and it then impacted on the top of an approximate 800-ft-tall rock cliff. A fire erupted during the impact, the airplane fragmented, and the main wreckage was projected over the cliff and scattered over a wide river valley below the cliff face. 

An examination of the wreckage site confirmed that the airplane's left wing had struck trees, and the outboard section of the left wing had separated from the airplane. Examination of the two engines revealed impact signatures consistent with their producing power at the time of impact. The pilot was in radio communications with either the fire base, the ATGS, or the ASM throughout the accident flight, and he did not report any concerns about the flight or mechanical issues.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from trees while maneuvering at a low altitude.


Geoffrey Craig Hunt 



Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fresno, California

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

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

http://registry.faa.gov/N449DF

NTSB Identification: WPR15GA005
14 CFR Public Aircraft
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 07, 2014 in El Portal, CA
Aircraft: MARSH AVIATION S 2F3AT, registration: N449DF
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On October 7, 2014, about 1623 Pacific daylight time, a Marsh Aviation S-2F3AT airplane, N449DF, call sign "Tanker 81," impacted terrain while maneuvering in Yosemite National Park near El Portal, California. The airline transport pilot sustained fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to the United States Department of Agriculture and operated by CAL FIRE. On this fire, it was under the operational control of US National Park Service (NPS), as a public firefighting flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed near the accident site about the time of the accident. The airplane had departed Columbia Airport (O22), Columbia, California, at 1608. 

According to a CAL FIRE representative, Tanker 81 was stationed at the Hollister, California, air base and had been dispatched to the Dog Rock fire in Yosemite National Park. The airplane successfully made one fire retardant drop and then proceeded to O22 to reload. Tanker 81 was supported by two other aircraft: an orbiting Air Tactical aircraft (ATGS) that coordinated the aerial operations with ground units and an Aerial Supervision Module (ASM) that flew ahead of the tanker to define the route and the drop initiation point. 

Upon returning to the fire area, the accident pilot coordinated his next drop with the orbiting ATGS aircraft and then followed the ASM airplane. According to the ASM pilot, the ASM flew the proposed drop route and initiated smoke to show the Tanker 81 pilot the desired drop location. The route included a slight left turn to final and a right turn to exit over descending terrain. The ASM descended to 4,000 ft msl during the run, and described a predominate tree off to the right of the flightpath as a hazard, and instructed the accident pilot to stay to the left of it. The ASM pilot also described "very clear, smooth air over the drop area." The ASM pilot asked the Tanker 81 pilot if he had seen the smoke and if the route looked OK to him? The Tanker 81 pilot responded that "it looked OK." The ASM then climbed to 5,100 ft msl to lead the drop run. The ASM pilot joined the pattern on the downwind and then told the Tanker 81 pilot that he could descend to 5,100 ft msl. He continued to describe the drop and flightpath to the tanker pilot and told him that there was some thin top smoke on final but that he could see through it and that they would break out of the smoke before reaching the drop area. He added that the last response he received from the pilot was when he said, "OK," on the downwind and that this was not unusual. 

The crew of the ATGS airplane reported that, while Tanker 81 was on final approach for the drop, it appeared to strike trees with its left wing. Both aircrews reported that there was smoke in the area but that visibility along the approach to the drop was good.

Witnesses reported seeing the accident, and one of them provided a video that was taken from a vantage point along a mountain trail that was above Tanker 81's flightpath. The video revealed that, while on approach to the drop site, Tanker 81 struck trees with its left wing. Following the impact with the trees, the airplane entered a descending left roll, and it then impacted on the top of an approximate 800-ft-tall rock cliff. A fire erupted during the impact, the airplane fragmented, and the main wreckage was projected over the cliff and scattered over a wide river valley area below the cliff face. 

Tanker 81 was equipped with telemetry, which showed the airplane on a course heading of 253º at 4,810 ft msl and 148 knots at 1623. The flight telemetry log is included in the public docket for this report.


In this file photo, Yosemite National Park Rangers transfer the body of  Cal Fire pilot, Geoffrey "Craig" Hunt, who was killed in an aircraft crash in Yosemite National Park, California.


PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held an airline transport certificate with airplane multiengine land, airplane single-engine land, and instrument ratings. The pilot was issued a Federal Aviation Administration second-class medical certificate on February 12, 2014, with the limitation that he must wear corrective lenses. The pilot's flight records showed that he had 6,567 total flight hours.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was originally a Grumman S-2 manufactured in 1966, but it was remanufactured as a Marsh Aviation S-2F3AT in 2004. It was equipped with two Honeywell (Allied Signal) TPE331-14GR turbine engines. Total airframe time since new was 5,819.5 hours as of October 2, 2014. The airplane was operated in the restricted category and maintained under annual and 100-hour inspections. The latest 100-hour inspection was completed on August 23, 2014. A review of maintenance logs showed no evidence of any airplane mechanical/maintenance anomalies. 

COMMUNICATIONS

The pilot of Tanker 81 was in radio communication with either the fire base, the ATGS, or ASM throughout the accident flight. The pilot did not express any concerns about the flight or report any mechanical issues.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1600, the closest official weather reporting station, about 7 miles northwest of the accident site, reported sky condition clear, temperature 75°F, dew point 32ºF, altimeter setting 29.90 inches of mercury, wind from 225º at 10 to 15 knots, and visibility greater than 10 miles.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane impacted trees and terrain on a steep, heavily vegetated area within the active fire zone. All the wreckage sustained impact and fire damage. The top of a tree had been severed and lay on the ground, and the outboard section of the left wing was found separated from the airplane. The inboard end of the separated wing section leading edge showed impact marks perpendicular to the wingspan. The inboard end of the wing section was torn chordwise from leading edge to trailing edge. Along the chordwise tear, the sheet-metal tears were jagged, and the internal structure was pulled apart. The tear was outboard of the locking mechanism that locked the folding wing in place. The aileron and flap were in place. 

The main fuselage, right wing, and both engines and their associated propellers were found in the river valley area below the cliff face. The wing-fold locking mechanism for the left wing's outboard section and the locking mechanism's locking devices, which were found in the "locked" position, were also located in the valley. The left-wing outboard section had separated outboard of the locking mechanism. 

Examination of both engines revealed impact signatures consistent with their producing power at the time of impact. All the propeller blades exhibited S-bending and torsional twisting. Portions of the blades were fragmented and exhibited leading edge gouging and chordwise scratching. 

Following the onsite examination, the wreckage was recovered to a secure facility and reexamined. No anomalies were noted with the airplane or engines.

OPERATIONAL INFORMATION

A review of the Interagency Aerial Supervision Guide (ASG), document PMS 505, NFES 002544, dated January 2014, Chapter 9, Tactical Aircraft Operations, outlines operational procedures for air tanker aircraft. Section 1, Low Level Operations, part b, item i defines a "show me" profile as a low-level pass made over the target using the physical location of the aircraft to demonstrate the line and start point of the retardant drop. The Show-Me Profile is normally used for the first airtanker on a specific run or when an incoming airtanker has not had the opportunity to observe the previous drop. A Show-Me can be used alone or before other profiles. The pilot [of the lead plane] begins the run when the airtanker crew can visually identify the aircraft, hazards, line, start and exit point of the drop. 

An NTSB Operations Group was formed, and the Operations Group Chairman's report is available in the public docket for this report. 

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Mariposa County, Coroner, Modesto, California conducted an autopsy on the pilot. The pilot's cause of death was attributed to "multiple blunt force injuries." 

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted toxicological testing on specimens from the pilot. No toxicological anomalies were found.




LOS ANGELES (AP) — The 2014 fatal crash of an air tanker fighting a forest fire in Yosemite National Park came just after the pilot was warned to avoid a tree to the right but then struck trees to the left, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report.

Soon after the plane went down investigators came to believe its left wing probably struck a tree. The report released Wednesday provides new details on what led up to the crash, which killed pilot Geoffrey "Craig" Hunt, 62, but does conclude what caused it.

The board is expected to determine the probable cause within about 45 days, said Janet Upton, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, which was operating the aircraft under control of the National Park Service when the crash occurred on Oct. 7, 2014.

The twin-engine S-2F3AT was working with a tactical aircraft over the fire and another airplane that flies ahead of retardant-laden air tankers to guide them to drop points. Both support planes reported good visibility.

According to the report, the guide plane flew a proposed route and released smoke to show Hunt where to drop retardant. The approach included a slight left turn and then a right turn to exit the area.

The guide pilot "described a predominate tree off to the right of the flightpath as a hazard, and instructed the accident pilot to stay to the left of it," the report said.

The guide pilot asked the Hunt if he had seen the smoke and if the route looked OK, and he agreed, the report said.

The guide pilot then began leading the tanker on the actual retardant run, describing the drop and flightpath and saying there would be a thin layer of wildfire smoke but he would see through it and break clear of it before reaching the drop, the report said.

Hunt said "OK" in his last communication with the guide plane.

The crew of the tactical aircraft overhead reported the tanker appeared to strike trees with its left wing while on final approach for the drop. The tanker crashed into the top of 800-foot-tall rock cliff and wreckage fragmented into a river valley below.

Examination of wreckage showed the outer end of the tanker's left wing had been sheared off and a severed treetop was lying on the ground. Both engines were still producing power at the time of impact, evidence showed.

The report said Hunt was in radio communication with his base and the other two aircraft throughout the mission and did not express any concerns about the flight or report any mechanical problems. His cause of death was determined to be multiple blunt-force injuries and there were no toxicological anomalies.

The tanker was originally built as a Navy anti-submarine warfare plane in 1966 and was remanufactured as a tanker in 2004.

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

NTSB Identification: WPR15GA005
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 07, 2014 in El Portal, CA
Aircraft: MARSH AVIATION S 2F3AT, registration: N449DF
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. : NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

On October 7, 2014, about 1630 Pacific daylight time, a Marsh Aviation S-2F3AT airplane, N449DF, call sign tanker 81, was destroyed by impact with terrain and a postcrash fire while maneuvering in the Yosemite National Park, near El Portal, California. The airplane was registered to and operated by Cal Fire under contract to the National Parks Service, as a visual flight rules (VFR), public use aerial firefighting tanker. The airline transport pilot, the sole occupant, received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that departed Columbia Airport (O22), Columbia, California.

According to a Forest Service spokesman, the airplane was stationed at the airbase at Hollister, California, and had been dispatched to the Dog Rock fire. The airplane arrived on scene, and made one drop on the fire, then proceeded to the Columbia Airport to be reloaded with fire retardant.

During the aerial firefighting operations, in addition to the aerial tanker, 2 other aircraft were used; an orbiting aerial controller that coordinated aerial operations with ground units; and a "lead plane" that tracked ahead of the tanker to define the route and the drop initiation point.

Upon returning to the fire scene, the accident airplane had coordinated its next drop with the orbiting aerial coordinator, and was following the lead airplane. The crew of the lead airplane did not see the accident. The crew of the controller airplane reported that the accident airplane may have struck a tree with its wing, which separated from the airplane. Both aircrews reported that there was smoke in the area, but visibility was good.

On October 9, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge and an additional NTSB investigator arrived on scene. Also on scene were representatives (investigators) of the U.S.D.A Office of Aviation Safety (OAS), National Parks Service (NPS), U.S Forest Service (USFS), and CAL FIRE.