Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Hughes 530FF Lifter (369FF), registered to Air 1 Sandpoint Helicopters Inc and operated by Brunner Aerospace, N530FU: Fatal accident occurred August 21, 2018 in Granger, Williamson County, Texas

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Antonio, Texas

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Granger, TX
Accident Number: WPR18FA232
Date & Time: 08/21/2018, 1218 CDT
Registration: N530FU
Aircraft: HUGHES 369
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 

On August 21, 2018, about 1218 central daylight time, a Hughes 369FF, N530FU, struck overhead power lines near Granger, Texas. The flight instructor and foreign registered military pilot undergoing instruction sustained fatal injuries and the helicopter was destroyed by post impact fire. The helicopter was registered to Air 1 Sandpoint Helicopters Inc. and operated by Brunner Aerospace under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight originated from Georgetown Municipal Airport, Georgetown, Texas, about 1208 and was destined for Taylor Municipal Airport, Taylor, Texas.

The flight was to provide emergency procedure recurrency training to the pilot, who was a member of the Jordanian Armed Forces. Brunner Aerospace had been contracted to provide the training on behalf of the US Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization (SATMO).

The accident occurred on the second day of the nine-day-long training course, and it was intended to be a local orientation flight. The accident sequence was not observed by any witnesses, however preliminary radar data revealed a target departing Georgetown (airport elevation 786 ft mean sea level (msl)) to the east and reaching an altitude of 1,450 ft msl after traveling 9 miles. The target then began to descend while continuing the eastbound track. The last recorded target was traveling at a speed of about 100 knots, and an elevation of 700 ft msl (150 ft above ground level).

The wreckage was located in a cotton field, 16 miles east of Georgetown and about 1,500 ft east of the last radar target. The first identified point of ground contact consisted of a series of five matching two-foot-long excavations, equally spaced over about 40 ft and on a heading of 100° magnetic. The cotton bushes adjacent to the disturbances had been sheared on a 45° plane relative to the ground. The debris field, which consisted of landing skid fragments, pieces of windshield, cabin contents and sections of main rotor blade, continued 100 ft on a heading of 080° directly to the main cabin.

The cabin came to rest on its left side, on a heading of about 280°. Most of the cabin was consumed by fire, and the tailcone and tail rotor assembly had separated and were located about 20 ft to the east.

The field was bordered to the west by a series of 36-ft-tall power distribution poles oriented north-south and spaced about 450 ft apart. The top of the poles were spanned by a steel 6/3 stranded overhead line, and an underbuild line 4 ft below. The overhead line in the northwest corner of the field (about 950 ft from the main wreckage) had severed about 160 ft from the north pole, and a red belly-mounted strobe light lens was located 100 ft east. The other side of the line (about 1,300 ft in length) had pulled away from the two poles to the south and was continuous to the main wreckage. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: HUGHES
Registration: N530FU
Model/Series: 369 FF
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Brunner Aerospace
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  Agricultural Aircraft (137); Commuter Air Carrier (135); Rotorcraft External Load (133) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KGTU, 787 ft msl
Observation Time: 1656 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 14 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 33°C / 22°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Light and Variable / , Variable
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.14 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Georgetown, TX (GTU)
Destination:  Taylor, TX (T74) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:   30.690278, -97.400556

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

12:45 p.m. Wednesday update: One of the two people killed Tuesday in a helicopter crash outside Granger was a Jordanian fighter pilot who was on a training flight with an American pilot, Jordanian military officials said in a statement Wednesday.

The officials identified 27-year-old 1st Lt. Ahmed Ali Mohammed Khalif al-Khawaldeh of Amman, Jordan, as one of the two people who died.

The Texas Department of Public Safety later identified the American pilot of the helicopter as 58-year-old Michael Hawley of Dothan, Ala.

Both were pronounced dead at the scene, DPS said.

Jordan would participate in “a joint investigative body” with American officials to look into the cause of the crash, the Jordanian military said. 

Dina Kawar, the Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United States, also sent condolences to friends and loved ones of the pilot on Wednesday.

“Sad to see yet another loss of one of our finest military men who died yesterday in Texas alongside an American pilot. May First Lieutenant, Pilot Ahmad Ali Mohammad (Khalif) al-Khawaldeh RIP,” she said.

Officials with Brunner Aerospace in Georgetown said it was their company’s helicopter that crashed. The flight was supporting a U.S. government contract that provides aviator-training services.

The FAA identified the tail number of the helicopter as N530FU, which is registered to Air 1 Sandpoint Helicopters in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The American-Statesman has requested a full rotorcraft record from the FAA, but had not received it on Wednesday afternoon.

2 p.m. Tuesday update: Two people were killed Tuesday in a fiery helicopter crash in northeastern Williamson County along County Road 346 near Granger, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

The pair were the only ones traveling in the helicopter when it went down about 15 miles east of the Georgetown Municipal Airport after hitting a power line and crashing into a field around 12:45 p.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said in a statement.

The helicopter took off from the airport around 12:15 p.m. on a local flight, Lunsford said.

Federal aviation officials are headed to the scene where the Hughes H369FF helicopter crashed and the National Transportation Safety Board will take over the investigation, Lunsford said.

12:50 p.m. update: A small helicopter with an unknown number of passengers has crashed near an active power line in northeastern Williamson County along County Road 346 near Granger, Sheriff Robert Chody said.

Earlier: Williamson County officials are responding to reports of a possible helicopter crash along County Road 346 near Granger, Sheriff Robert Chody said. 

More information was not immediately available, Chody said.

Original article can be found here ➤

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A member of the Jordanian military and an American pilot were killed in a small helicopter crash in northeast Williamson County Tuesday afternoon, according to the Jordan Armed Forces.

The Texas Department of Public Safety identified the pilot as Michael Hawley, 58, of Dothan, Alabama, and the Jordanian co-pilot as Ahmed Khawaldeah, 27. 

The crash happened next to County Road 346, which is off State Highway 95 between Circleville and Granger, around 12:30 p.m. 

A translated release from the Jordan Army posted Wednesday on its website says First Lt. Ahmed Ali Mohammed Khalif al-Khawaldeh died during a training trip in Texas. A U.S. Army pilot was also killed. The military says it formed a joint investigative body with the U.S. 

The Federal Aviation Administration says the helicopter, a Hughes H369FF, with two people onboard departed from Georgetown airport around 12:15 p.m. and crashed approximately 15 miles east of the airport. 

According to preliminary reports, the helicopter hit a power line and crashed into a cotton field and caught on fire. 

Janet Preston, who lives nearby, said the lights in her bathroom flickered around that same time. She went to her living room and saw a "mushroom cloud" of black smoke rising from the field across the street.

"The first thing you think of is a house fire," Preston said. "We went through the Bastrop fires and so a lot of those homes and fires were so hot that they exploded, and that's what it reminded me of."

Another neighbor, Phillip Wagner, did not witness the crash either, but he walked outside shortly after it happened when he heard sirens. He said he saw heavy black smoke coming from the crash site, and he immediately suspected that an aircraft had crashed. 

"We have a lot of air traffic around here because of the lake. People like to sight-see around it," Wagner said, "but it's unusual to have [a helicopter] flying low like that." 

Neighbors said their thoughts are now with the loved ones of the two people killed aboard the helicopter. 

"My heart goes out to them and the family," Wagner said. "The family's now got to deal with loss, so it's pretty sad."

Several people who work at the Georgetown Municipal Airport told KXAN they knew the two people who were killed in the crash. They say it's a huge loss to their community.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are investigating. 

Story and video ➤

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