Thursday, February 15, 2018

Bell 407, N1371, owned by GM Leasing and operated by Westwind Helicopters: Fatal accident occurred February 27, 2017 in Chauvin, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana

Matthew Masashi Kawamura, 26, of Enterprise, Alabama


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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Westwind Helicopters; Santa Fe, Texas 
Rolls Royce; Indianapolis, Indiana 

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

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

http://registry.faa.gov/N1371


Location: Chauvin, LA
Accident Number: CEN17FA112
Date & Time: 02/27/2017, 1033 CST
Registration: N1371
Aircraft: BELL 407
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT)
Injuries:  1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Positioning 

On February 27, 2017, about 1033 central standard time, a Bell 407 helicopter, N1371, was destroyed when it impacted marshy water 15 miles southwest of Houma, Louisiana (HUM). The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The repositioning flight was operated by Westwind Helicopters under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Regulations (CFR) Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed throughout the area and a company flight plan was activated. The flight originated at 1014 from offshore oil platform South Timbalier ST37, Gulf of Mexico.

Before the accident flight, the helicopter had completed a 14 CFR Part 135 passenger flight from HUM to ST37, dropping off 2 passengers. The passengers reported that the flight to ST37 was normal. According to the operator, the pilot was to return the helicopter to HUM for a minor repair of an engine cowling fastener. The pilot was the only person on board for the approximate 30-minute flight to HUM.

The helicopter was equipped with an on-board flight tracking system (Sky Connect). After takeoff from ST37, six flight path data points were recorded at 2-minute intervals and showed the helicopter on a northwest heading. Sky Connect data showed the flight path of the helicopter flying direct toward HUM on a northwest heading. Sky Connect Flight Path Data Points:

1 Heading 207 degrees, altitude 108 feet, ground speed 8 knots (ST37 Departure)

2 Heading 337 degrees, altitude 728 feet, ground speed 148 knots

3 Heading 336 degrees, altitude 699 feet, ground speed 144 knots

4 Heading 336 degree, altitude 486 feet, ground speed 144 knots

5 Heading 336 degrees, altitude 548 feet, ground speed 150 knots

6 Heading 336 degrees, altitude 374 feet, ground speed 148 knots (Last Recorded Point)


Figure. Sky Connect Flight Path

The figure shows the helicopter's altitude, heading, and ground speed; ST37 is located at the right of the figure. The last Sky Connect data point was at 1024, indicating an altitude of 374 ft and ground speed of 148 knots. Sky Connect issued an "Overdue" alarm at 1033. At 1103, company flight monitoring personnel dispatched a search helicopter, and the wreckage was found at 1135 about 15 miles south-southeast of HUM.

There were no reported witnesses to the accident. There were no radio or distress calls heard from the helicopter, and the helicopter's Sky Connect emergency button was not activated. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial; Private
Age: 28, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane; Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification:  Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 06/29/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 12/12/2016
Flight Time:  2265 hours (Total, all aircraft), 123 hours (Total, this make and model), 2193 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 140 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 51 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument ratings. He was hired by Westwind Helicopters on July 17, 2016. His total flight time as of February 27, 2017 was 2,266 hours, all of which was in light helicopters. His total flight time in the accident helicopter make and model was 120 hours. He had flown 140 flight hours in single-engine helicopters in the 90 days before the accident. According to pilot training records provided by the operator, the pilot was current and qualified in offshore Part 135 flight operations. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate was issued in June 2016 with no limitations. 




Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: BELL
Registration: N1371
Model/Series: 407 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1997
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 53182
Landing Gear Type: Emergency Float; Skid;
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 02/16/2017, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 5250 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 680 Hours
Engines: 1 Turbo Shaft
Airframe Total Time: 9135 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: ALLISON
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: 250-C47
Registered Owner:  GM LEASING COMPANY LLC
Rated Power: 650 hp
Operator: Westwind Helicopters
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand Air Taxi (135)

Westwind Helicopters leased the helicopter, serial number (S/N) 53182, from GM Leasing in April 2015. It had a total airframe time of 9,146.8 hours at the time of the accident. The helicopter was equipped with an Allison 250C47B turbo shaft engine (S/N CAE847222) with a total time of 15,510.6 hours. According to maintenance records provided by the operator, the most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on February 16, 2017, at 9,125.5 airframe hours.

Maintenance records indicated compliance with all required scheduled maintenance inspections, applicable service bulletins, and applicable airworthiness directives. A review of the maintenance logbooks by the NTSB IIC did not reveal any uncorrected scheduled or unscheduled maintenance actions. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: HUM, 15 ft msl
Observation Time: 0950 CST
Distance from Accident Site: 15 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 156°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 1000 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / 21°C
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 2200 ft agl
Visibility:  5 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 12 knots/ 17 knots, 150°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.12 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: GOM ST37, GM (ST37)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Destination: Houma, LA (HUM)
Type of Clearance: VFR Flight Following
Departure Time: 1014 CST
Type of Airspace: Class E

At 0950, the weather observation at HUM included wind from 150° at 12 knots gusting to 17 knots, visibility 5 statute miles with haze, scattered clouds at 1,000 ft and a broken ceiling at 2,200 ft, temperature 24°C, dew point 21°C, and an altimeter setting of 30.12 inches of mercury.

The search pilot reported that the conditions in the area of the accident site included 5-7 miles visibility with ceilings above 700 ft about 1130. 



Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 29.310278, 90.546389

General

The wreckage was found in shallow marsh waters south of Timbalier Bay, about 15 miles south-southeast of HUM. The wreckage was recovered and transported to a salvage facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The recovered portions included the main fuselage, tailboom, the main rotor drive system, main rotor blades, engine, tail rotor blades and tail rotor gearbox, and landing gear with skid-mounted float assembly.

Detailed examinations of the recovered components were conducted under the supervision of the NTSB investigator-in-charge. The FAA, Westwind Helicopters, Rolls Royce, and Bell Helicopter participated in the airframe examinations at Southern Aircraft Recovery on March 2-3, 2017. The Rolls-Royce engine was examined under the supervision of the FAA on March 3, 2017, at Arrow Aviation, Broussard, Louisiana. The Engine Control Unit (ECU) was transported to Triumph Engine Controls in West Hartford, Connecticut, for data extraction. The following are summaries of the examinations.

Airframe

The airframe was destroyed by impact forces upon water contact, breaking into several pieces. Airframe deformations were consistent with a slightly nose low and left skid down orientation at the time of impact. The left forward Dzus fastener on the engine cowling that was reported loose at the ST37C platform was missing, and the cowling mounting hole was found fractured. The left side of the helicopter exhibited more damage than the right side, including doors, landing gear, and cockpit and nose area. The tailboom remained connected to the aft fuselage and the aft fuselage was separated from the aft engine firewall bulkhead. The tailboom was relatively intact with two slight bends to the left. The vertical fin exhibited a tail rotor strike to its bottom surface, consistent impact forces occurring after the tail rotor gearbox departed its mounting location.

The skid-mounted float system was not deployed.

Rotors

All four main rotor blades exhibited spar and afterbody damage consistent with impact forces, but no spar fractures were observed. The top blade surface balance pocket weights located near the blade tips' leading edges were all intact, remaining firmly attached to the blade spars. The bottom blade surface balance pocket weights located near the blade tips' trailing edges had all departed from their mounting pockets in the blades afterbody surfaces.

All four main rotor yoke arms were significantly damaged from impact forces, exhibiting delamination and fractures of the composite yoke flexure structure. All hub bearings were damaged consistent with overtravel. Up-stops and down-stops were significantly damaged, consistent with impact forces.

Both tail rotor blades remained connected to their respective yoke arms. Both blades were relatively intact with one blade exhibiting trailing edge blade tip skin delamination consistent with impact forces.

No pre-impact anomalies were found in the main or tail rotor systems and the damages found were consistent with rotation at impact.

Flight Controls and Hydraulics

The cockpit area was destroyed by impact forces. The helicopter was equipped with single controls at the pilot's station. The vertical tunnel where four vertical flight control tubes transit was found fractured consistent with impact at top and bottom surfaces. All four control tubes exhibited overload fractures at the top of the vertical tunnel and the right cyclic pitch control tube was found fractured in overload about 1 ft from the bottom of the tube. The cyclic was intact and remained connected to the control system. Cyclic movement revealed corresponding movement of the vertical control tubes. The collective was fractured at its cast base, consistent with impact forces. The collective jackshaft was intact but displaced due to extensive cockpit damage. Control linkages to the main rotor servos were found intact. All three main rotor servos and mounting support structures were intact, including intact nut and locking tabs at the spool valve wire drive to spool control lever connections.

Tail rotor control system fractures were found at various locations due to airframe impact damage. The tail rotor pitch control was found intact.

The hydraulic manifold was found intact and the hydraulic reservoir was full of hydraulic fluid. Both the pressure line to the manifold and the rotor brake hydraulic line were found fractured, consistent with overload forces. The bypass pop-out buttons for both the pressure and return lines were not extended. The hydraulic pump remained attached to the main transmission, but the elbow pressure fitting was found fractured consistent with impact forces.

No pre-impact anomalies were found in the flight control or hydraulic systems.

Drive System

The mast was intact and the chip detectors were clean. The main KaFlex driveshaft exhibited flexure fractures at both forward and aft locations consistent with overload at impact. The KaFlex outer diameter exhibited minimal rotational signatures. The transmission end KaFlex coupling could not be rotated by hand. The top case of the transmission was removed, revealing significant magnesium corrosion from the transmission case between the planetary and ring gear teeth, preventing rotation of transmission gearing. All observed gears were intact. Transmission mounting to the airframe was secure. The fore/aft pylon elastomeric restraints were both damaged. The left restraint was found fractured consistent with overload impact forces and the right restraint was bent.

The forward steel short shaft under the engine remained connected to the engine end, but the aft spline coupling separated from the oil cooler shaft due to airframe impact deformations just forward of the oil cooler. The tail rotor driveshaft was found intact from the oil cooler to the most aft tail rotor driveshaft segment. Rotation of the driveshaft was inhibited due to crushing of the oil cooler fan shroud against the oil cooler fan. The last tail rotor driveshaft segment exhibited a fractured coupling attachment ear, consistent with overload impact forces on the tail rotor gearbox. Three of the four gearbox studs were found fractured. The right forward stud was found intact and a small piece of tail rotor gearbox casting material was found fractured, consistent with overload forces. The mounting spot faces on the gearbox support casting did not exhibit fretting, consistent with instantaneous fracture of the three studs. The tail rotor gearbox rotated by hand with moderate resistance.

No pre-impact anomalies were found with the drive system.

Fuel System

The airframe fuel filter canister contained water and fuel with a heavy fuel smell, consistent with water immersion. The paper filter was relatively clean with water droplets in the paper element folds. The main fuel cell exhibited breaches consistent with airframe impact damage. Several fuel line breaks were observed, consistent with impact damage. The fuel valve was found in the closed position.

Engine

The helicopter had been submerged in salt water for about 3 days before examination and was torn away from the airframe during the impact sequence. Both engine mounts had torn away at the airframe end and remained attached to the engine case. A section of airframe material remained attached to the engine by interface fuel and oil lines. Overall, the engine exhibited minimal impact damage with all modules and engine accessories in their normal respective positions. The fuel filter bypass button was found extended. Beginning corrosion was noted to the accessory gear box, consistent with salt water submersion. The exhaust stack remained attached to the engine and displayed minor impact damage. The stack was impacted with extending down and into the fourth stage turbine wheel area. The mud was removed from the stack. A small bag containing chip detector removal tools was found in the mud. Following a visual examination, the engine was given a fresh water rinse to remove the mud. 

Engine Disassembly

Before disassembly, neither the N1 nor N2 drive trains could be rotated by hand. The compressor module was externally normal in appearance. One impeller blade leading edge exhibited foreign object debris impact damage, with a tear about ¼-inch inboard from the tip and deflection of the blade tip in the direction opposite rotation. Multiple impeller blades displayed deflection and slight bending of the blades in the direction opposite of rotation. The impeller shroud displayed areas of rotational scoring from contact with the impeller, with corresponding rub damage noted to the impeller blades near the knee area. The diffuser vanes were in position and undamaged. The scroll was undamaged. The bleed valve remained in position but displayed a fracture in the center port of the bypass line, consistent with impact forces near the port.

The accessory gearbox displayed corrosion; however, no visible impact damage was noted. Separation of the gearbox case and cover revealed heavy internal corrosion of both the case and the cover. All internal gearing was in position and other than corrosion coating, the gearing was all visually normal and undamaged. The oil pump and piccolo tube were both in position and visually undamaged.

The turbine module remained in normal position and exhibited no visible damage. The thermocouple harness was in position and all probe tips were normal with no evidence of excessive temperatures. Removal and separation of the turbine module revealed water and mud throughout the gas path. Separation of the gas producer rotor showed that the stage one and stage two nozzles and wheels were visually normal and undamaged. Disassembly of the power turbine rotor revealed that the stage three wheel and nozzle were visually normal and undamaged. The stage four nozzle exhibited rotational scoring in the blade track of the stage four wheel with corresponding rub damage noted to the wheel's outer rim knife seals. The exhaust collector support was in proper position displaying no evidence of damage.

The outer combustion case remained in position and displayed minor impact denting on the right shoulder area. Both left and right compressor air discharge tubes remained in position and were properly seated on both the forward and aft ends. Removal of the outer combustion case and the combustor liner revealed no evidence of excessive streaking or temperature.

N1 shafting, to include the spur adapter gear shaft and the turbine to compressor coupling, were visually normal and undamaged. Both the turbine splined adapter and compressor splined adapter were in position and visually normal. N2 shafting, consisting of the power turbine inner shaft, power turbine outer shaft and power turbine to pinion gear coupling, were normal in appearance.

The CEFA filter was removed and examined. Removal of the oil filter bowl revealed evidence of an oil/water mix. The filter was visually normal and free of debris. Removal of the fuel filter bowl revealed clear, clean liquid with the odor of jet fuel. The fuel filter and bowl were clean and free of debris.

All engine main bearings were visually normal. All balls and/or rollers were visually normal and exhibited no damage. The hydromechanical unit (HMU) remained in position and displayed no external damage. The main drive shaft was in position and visually normal. The fuel nozzle was visually normal and the nozzle screen free of debris. The engine control unit (ECU) was placed into a fresh water rinse at recovery. Visual examination of the ECU revealed no evidence of case damage or water intrusion. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Terrebonne Medical Examiner's Office, Houma, Louisiana, performed an autopsy of the pilot on February 28, 2017. The cause of death was blunt trauma.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing of the pilot. No drugs, ethanol, or carbon monoxide were detected. 

Tests And Research

The ECU was transported to Triumph Engine Controls in West Hartford, Connecticut, for data extraction. The accident fight data did not show any faults with the engine. The operator reported that the normal airspeed for a return flight from offshore is typically about 120 knots. The Sky Connect data showed ground speeds between 144 and 148 knots.

Additional Information

After the accident, the operator implemented a Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) program to install Flight Data Management (FDM) equipment in all company aircraft to capture flight data, cockpit audio, and imagery on all flights.



NTSB Identification: CEN17FA112 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, February 27, 2017 in Chauvin, LA
Aircraft: BELL 407, registration: N1371
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 February 27, 2017, approximately 1033 central standard time, a Bell 407 helicopter, N1371, owned by GM Leasing of Broussard, Louisiana, and operated by Westwind Helicopters of Santa Fe, Texas, was destroyed when it impacted marshy water about 15 miles southwest of its home base of Houma, Louisiana (HUM). The commercial pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed throughout the area and a company flight following plan (via Sky Connect) was activated. The repositioning flight was being conducted under the provisions of Federal Code of Regulations Part 91. The flight originated from Gulf of Mexico (GOM) oil platform South Timbalier (ST37) at 1014.

The helicopter had just completed a Part 135 passenger flight from HUM to ST37, dropping off 2 passengers. The passengers reported that the flight to ST37 was normal. After completion of the passenger flight, the pilot was to return the helicopter to HUM for a minor repair of an engine cowl fastener. According to Sky Connect information, the helicopter departed ST37 at 1014 with the pilot as the only person on board for an approximate 30-minute flight back to HUM. Sky Connect data showed the flight path of the helicopter flying inbound toward HUM on a northwest heading. There were a total of 6 Sky Connect flight path points that were received in 2-minute intervals.

Available Sky Connect Flight Path Points:

1 Heading 108 degrees, altitude 267 feet, ground speed 80 knots (ST37 Departure)

2 Heading 337 degrees, altitude 728 feet, ground speed 148 knots

3 Heading 336 degrees, altitude 699 feet, ground speed 144 knots

4 Heading 336 degree, altitude 486 feet, ground speed 144 knots

5 Heading 336 degrees, altitude 548 feet, ground speed 150 knots

6 Heading 336 degrees, altitude 374 feet, ground speed 148 knots (Last Recorded Point)

The last Sky Connect data point was at 1024 (N29.291 latitude / W 90.521 longitude). Sky Connect issued an "Overdue" alarm at 1033. Westwind flight monitoring personnel dispatched a search helicopter at 1103 from the HUM base and the helicopter wreckage was sited at 1135 in shallow marsh waters of South Timbalier Bay, about 15 miles SSE of HUM (N29.310278 latitude / W90.546389 longitude).

There were no radio or distress calls heard from the helicopter.

All of the major helicopter wreckage was found within an approximate 100-foot radius in 4-foot deep water. Lighter airframe debris were found floating away from the main helicopter wreckage.

The helicopter was recovered to Southern Aircraft Recovery, Baton Rouge, Louisiana were it was examined under the supervision of the NTSB, with representatives from the FAA, Westwind Helicopters, Rolls Royce, and Bell Helicopter.


During the examination, no mechanical anomalies were discovered with the helicopter airframe, drive system, or flight controls. Examination and teardown of the engine did not reveal any anomalies. A review of the maintenance logbooks revealed that the scheduled maintenance was up-to-date, did not show any outstanding items, and all applicable service bulletins were accomplished. A review of the pilot training records showed that the pilot was qualified and current in the Bell 407.


The Engine Control Unit (ECU) which had been recovered was placed into a fresh water rinse at recovery. Following the rinse, a visual examination of the ECU revealed no evidence of case damage or water intrusion. Due to the unit having been submerged in salt water the ECU will be shipped to Triumph Engine Controls in West Hartford Connecticut for possible engine data query.





GALVESTON – The family of a man who perished in a helicopter crash in Louisiana on February 27, 2017 has pursued legal action against his former employer and the company that built the aircraft.

In a lawsuit filed against Westwind Helicopters, Inc. and Bell Helicopter on October 27, 2017 in the Galveston County Court at Law No. 1, California residents Sammy and Barbara Kawamura assert that each company contributed to the death of their son, Matthew.

Joining the younger Kawamura’s estate as a co-plaintiff is Ashley Fletcher, also of California, the mother of his young son.

Court documents explain that Matthew Kawamura piloted a Bell 407 helicopter which “dropped out of the sky and crashed” near Houma, Louisiana. According to the complaint, the flight in question originated from the Gulf of Mexico oil platform South Timbalier and was to return to Houma for repair of an engine cowl fastener.

A component of the aircraft killed Matthew Kawamura, the suit says.

Westwind, which employed the decedent at the time of his passing, purportedly maintained, repaired, and inspected the helicopter prior to the aforementioned flight. Bell is faulted for not properly designing and assembling the aircraft.

A jury trial is requested.

Attorney Jason A. Itkin of the law firm Arnold & Itkin LLP in Houston serves as the plaintiffs’ lead counsel.

Galveston County Court at Law No. 1 Case No. CV-79882

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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm old school ... Or maybe just old ... In almost 50 years of flying always considered it bad juju to have cameras in use on board a plane ... Sort of like whistling if there is a CVR on board ... On the other hand, they will have some good recent pics for the obit. RIP