Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Loss of Control in Flight: Robinson R44 Raven II, N7530R; fatal accident occurred January 30, 2018 near John Wayne Airport (KSNA), Orange County, California

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration; Washington, District of Columbia
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Robinson Helicopter Company; Torrance, California 
 
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/N7530R 



Location: Newport Beach, CA
Accident Number: WPR18FA077
Date & Time: 01/30/2018, 1350 PST
Registration: N7530R
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 3 Fatal, 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On January 30, 2018, about 1350 Pacific standard time, a Robinson Helicopter R44, N7530R, was destroyed when it impacted houses near Newport Beach, California shortly after takeoff. The private pilot and two of the three passengers sustained fatal injuries, one passenger sustained serious injuries, and one person on the ground sustained minor injuries. The helicopter was registered to Spitzer Helicopter and was operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which originated from John Wayne-Orange County Airport (SNA), Santa Ana, California, about 1 minute before the accident, with an intended destination of Catalina Island, California.

The surviving passenger reported that the pilot and all of the passengers met at the pilot's office and planned to fly to Catalina Island for lunch. Following a brief conversation, the pilot drove the passengers to the airport. The passenger stated that, during the drive, the pilot received a phone call during which he appeared to be frustrated. The passenger asked if everything was ok, and the pilot responded everything was fine and he just wanted a different helicopter. Upon arriving at the airport, they all walked to the helicopter and the pilot appeared to conduct a preflight inspection.

The passenger recalled that the pilot never asked any of the passengers about their weights, nor did he assign them seats. After all the passengers boarded the helicopter, they put on the headsets and the pilot started the engine. The passenger stated that the helicopter started to lift up, shimmied a little, and seemed to hover momentarily before it began a gradual climb. As the helicopter continued to climb steadily, in more of a level attitude than the initial lift off, the helicopter suddenly descended straight down nose first and impacted the ground. Following transport to the hospital, the passenger reported to law enforcement that the pilot said "something's wrong" and apologized to the passengers before stating that he could probably "save it."

Surveillance video footage of the takeoff showed the helicopter slightly move forward in a nose low attitude, lift off, rotate left, increase in a nose-low attitude, and yaw to the right. As the helicopter briefly transitioned into a level attitude, it moved momentarily out of view behind a parked airplane. The tailboom of the helicopter became visible shortly after, in an elevated attitude consistent with a nose-low pitch attitude. As the rest of the helicopter became visible, it appeared to be in a slight climbing left turn, remaining in a nose-low attitude. The helicopter briefly descended and appeared to transition into a level attitude before it began a climb. The helicopter continued the climb while transitioning to a nose-low pitch attitude as it traveled out of frame.

A witness adjacent to the accident site reported observing the helicopter "going down quickly diagonally" before it "pulled [the] nose up and appeared to try an auto rotation while it continued to go down." A second witness reported that they observed the helicopter flying on an easterly heading and descending until it impacted two residential houses. The witness reported that they did not see any parts come off of the helicopter prior to the impact.

A review of archived Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) radar data revealed that the helicopter departed SNA on a southerly heading followed by a slight left turn to a southeasterly heading. The data showed that the helicopter climbed to a maximum altitude of 500 ft mean sea level (msl) and traveled along a southeasterly heading for about 13 seconds. The data showed that the helicopter then descended from 500 ft msl to the last recorded target, at 200 ft msl, in 11 seconds. The last recorded radar return was almost directly above the initial impact area. Review of recorded radio transmissions revealed that the pilot did not make any distress calls.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 60, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied:Right 
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present:No 
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/11/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 195 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rotorcraft-helicopter rating and a third-class FAA medical certificate issued on July 11, 2016, with no limitations. The pilot reported on the application for the medical certificate 195 total hours of flight experience, of which 25 hours were in the previous 6 months. The pilot's logbooks were not located. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: ROBINSON HELICOPTER
Registration: N7530R
Model/Series: R44 UNDESIGNATED
Aircraft Category:Helicopter 
Year of Manufacture: 2003
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 1295
Landing Gear Type: Emergency Float; Skid;
Seats:
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 12/07/2017, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 6966.3 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed
Engine Model/Series: O-540-F1B5
Registered Owner: SPITZER HELICOPTER LLC
Rated Power: 260 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held:None  

The accident helicopter was a Robinson Helicopter R44, serial number 1295, and was powered by a 235-horsepower Lycoming O-540-F1B5 engine, serial number L-25375-40A. The most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on December 7, 2017, at a Hobbs time of 568.6 hours and an airframe total time of 6,966.3 hours. The most recent annual inspection was completed on June 1, 2017, at a Hobbs time of 383.9 hours, airframe total time of 6,781.6 hours, and engine time since major overhaul of 383.9 hours.

According to representatives from a fixed-base operator located at SNA, the helicopter was refueled with 15.8 gallons of 100 low-lead aviation fuel based on a request to top off the main fuel tank only.

Using the basic empty weight of the helicopter, fuel load, and weights of the occupants and baggage, the helicopter weighed about 2,476 lbs at the time of takeoff with a longitudinal center of gravity (CG) of 93.42 inches. The calculated weight exceeded the published maximum gross weight of 2,400 lbs and the CG was near the forward range noted in the R44 Pilot Operating Handbook.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSNA, 55 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2153 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 10°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 13000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 18000 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 210°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 29.98 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C / -2°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Santa Ana, CA (SNA)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Catalina Island, CA
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 1349 PST
Type of Airspace: Class C

A review of recorded data from the SNA automated weather observation station, located about 2 miles north of the accident site, revealed that the conditions at 1353 included wind from 210° at 5 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, few clouds at 13,000 ft above ground level (agl), broken cloud layer at 18,000 ft agl, temperature 26°C, dew point -2°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.98 inches of mercury. 

Airport Information

Airport: JOHN WAYNE AIRPORT-ORANGE COUNTY (SNA)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 56 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal, 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 33.654167, -117.871389 

The helicopter impacted multiple residential structures and a residential street about 0.95 nm miles south-southeast of the departure end of runway 20R at SNA. The initial impact point was identified by damage to the roof of a single-story home. The tail rotor gearbox and one tail rotor blade were located on top of the roof of a single-story home, partially lodged within a hole in the roof. The empennage and opposing tail rotor blade were located between the two homes, surrounded by thick vegetation. Additional impact damage was observed to a palm tree located between the homes.

Numerous impact gouges and paint transfer marks were located on the street in front of both homes, consistent with fuselage and main rotor blade impact. The helicopter came to rest on its left side against a single-story home on a heading of about 189° magnetic, about 86 ft from the first identified point of impact. Throughout the wreckage debris path, plexiglass fragments, clay roofing material, palm tree fragments, and portions of both main rotor blades were observed.

The empennage and the aft section of the tailcone were separated from the airframe. The empennage was separated from the tailcone. The tail rotor gearbox was separated from the empennage and tailcone. The skids were detached and folded underneath the wreckage. The forward section of the tailcone was bent forward almost 180°.

The forward tail rotor drive shaft flex coupling was intact. The intermediate flex coupling was distorted and detached at one arm. The tail rotor drive shaft was separated into multiple sections. The tail rotor drive shaft damper assembly was detached from the tailcone and the tail rotor drive shaft bearing. The bearing rotated freely. The friction at the damper linkage was normal. The aft flex coupling was detached at the tail rotor gearbox yoke input arms. The tail rotor gearbox rotated freely and contained oil. The slider bearing rotated freely. One of the tail rotor blades was separated and distorted. The opposing blade remained attached and exhibited leading edge damage.

The drive belts remained intact and in place within their respective grooves. The sprag clutch operated normally. The belt tension actuator was intact and when operated, the belt tension actuator extended and contracted. Both the upper and lower actuator bearings rotated freely.

The main rotor blades remained attached to the hub. Both main rotor blades were intact. One of the rotor blades was bent upward about mid-span and exhibited slight bending opposite of the direction of rotation near the blade tip. A portion of the blade honeycomb skin structure was torn away from the spar at the blade tip. The opposing main rotor blade exhibited dents and scuffs about 10 inches outboard of the hub. The blade was bent downward about 135° about 2 ft outboard of the hub. The blade was also bent upward mid-span and bent aft opposite of the direction of rotation along the outboard third of the blade. A portion of the blade honeycomb skin structure was torn away from the blade tip.

Dents observed in the oil cooler were consistent with impact from the starter ring gear. At the upper belt sheave, score marks consistent with rotational contact from adjacent components were observed.

Flight control continuity was established throughout the helicopter from the cockpit controls to the main rotor and tail rotor controls through various overload fractures.

The engine remained attached to the airframe. The upper spark plugs were removed. The electrodes were undamaged and exhibited color consistent with normal operation with the exception of the No. 3 spark plug, which was oil-soaked. The engine crankshaft was rotated using the cooling fan. Compression and suction were obtained on all six cylinders.

The oil sump screen was removed and contained two small plastic fragments consistent with the magneto drive bushings. The oil filter was removed and cut open. The internal filter element exhibited no debris.

The engine was installed on a test stand. In order to facilitate an engine run, a slave starter and propeller were installed. The engine was started and ran uneventfully. During the engine run, the No. 3 cylinder was not producing any exhaust gas temperature (EGT) readings on the engine monitoring unit installed on the test stand. The engine was shut down and further inspected. The bottom spark plug lead of the No. 3 cylinder was found impact damaged, and the upper spark plug lead was pulled away from the ignition cap. A serviceable ignition harness was installed for both the left and right magnetos. The engine was started a second time and operated throughout various power settings. At maximum power, the engine produced 2,600 rpm at 29 inches of manifold pressure. Engine rpm drops during magneto tests were within specification. The engine ran uneventfully until it was shut down using the mixture cut-off.

No evidence of any preexisting mechanical malfunction was observed with the airframe or engine.

For further information, see the Accident Site, Airframe, and Engine Examination Summary report and Robinson Helicopter's report within the public docket for this accident.

Medical And Pathological Information

The Orange County Coroner, Santa Ana, California, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The autopsy report indicated that the cause of death was multiple blunt force traumatic injuries.

Toxicology testing on specimens recovered from the pilot performed at the FAA Forensic Sciences Laboratory identified unspecified amounts of Irbesartan in the blood and urine.

Irbesartan is a prescription medication used alone or in combination with other medications to treat high blood pressure. It is not considered to be impairing.

Additional Information

According to the FAA's Helicopter Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-21B), Chapter 6, Weight and Balance:

Weight limits are necessary to guarantee the structural integrity of the helicopter, enable pilots to predict helicopter performance and insure aircraft controllability.

Helicopter performance is not only affected by gross weight, but also by the position of that weight. It is essential to load the aircraft within the allowable CG range specified in the rotorcraft flight manual (RFM) weight and balance limitations. Loading outside approved limits can result in insufficient control travel for safe operation.


The pilot should ensure that the helicopter is properly balanced within its center of gravity limitations, so that minimal cyclic input is required during hovering flight, except for any wind corrections. Since the fuselage acts as a pendulum suspended from the rotor, changing the CG changes the angle at which the aircraft hangs from the rotor…if the CG is too far forward of the mast, the helicopter hangs with its nose tilted down…

Location: Newport Beach, CA
Accident Number: WPR18FA077
Date & Time: 01/30/2018, 1350 PST
Registration: N7530R
Aircraft:  ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44
Injuries: 3 Fatal, 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On January 30, 2018, about 1350 Pacific standard time, a Robinson Helicopter R44, N7530R, was destroyed when it impacted three residential houses while maneuvering near Newport Beach, California. The private pilot and two of the three passengers sustained fatal injuries, one passenger sustained serious injuries, and one person located on the ground sustained minor injuries. The helicopter was registered to Spitzer Helicopter and operated by Revolution Aviation under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal cross-country flight. The flight originated from the John Wayne-Orange County Airport (SNA) about 1 minute prior to the accident, with an intended destination of Catalina Island, California.

Multiple witnesses adjacent to the accident site reported observing the helicopter in level flight before it began descending in a nose low attitude toward a residential area. Witnesses reported that the helicopter struck the roof of two houses before it impacted the ground. Subsequently, the helicopter came to rest on its left side against a third house.

The accident site was located about 0.95 miles south, southeast of the departure end of runway 20R at SNA. The wreckage debris path was oriented on a heading of about 189o magnetic and about 86 feet in length. All major structural components of the helicopter were located within the debris path.

The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: ROBINSON HELICOPTER
Registration: N7530R
Model/Series: R44 UNDESIGNATED
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Revolution Helicopters
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSNA, 55 ft msl
Observation Time: 2153 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C / -2°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 13000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 210°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 18000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.98 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Santa Ana, CA (SNA)
Destination: Catalina Island, CA 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal, 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude:  33.654167, -117.871389


Brian Reichelt and Kimberly Watzman 

Joseph Anthony Tena

The company that operated a helicopter that crashed into a home last week in Newport Beach, killing three people and injuring two others, was the focus of a Federal Aviation Administration investigation last year into allegations of improper maintenance, including on the copter that crashed, documents show.

Revolution Aviation, a flight school and touring company based at John Wayne Airport, had been leasing the four-seat Robinson R44 from Spitzer Helicopter LLC of Canyon Lake in Riverside County since April 2016.

On Jan. 30, the aircraft slammed into a house on Shearwater Place near Egret Court in Newport's Bayview Terrace community. Authorities have not determined what caused the crash.

Joseph Anthony Tena, 60, of Newport Beach, who had an ownership stake in Revolution Aviation, was killed along with Kimberly Lynne Watzman, 45, of Santa Monica and Brian Reichelt, 56, of Hollywood, Fla., according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Records show that another copter Revolution Aviation operated crashed at Long Beach Airport in September.

Shortly before that crash, the FAA's Long Beach flight standards district office inspected five of the helicopters Revolution Aviation operated, as well as all the company's aircraft operations and maintenance records, according to an August FAA memo obtained by the Daily Pilot.

The investigation was launched in July after the agency received a complaint on its aviation safety hot line.

During a review of the R44 helicopter that eventually went down in Newport Beach, a maintenance inspector found that safety wiring on the engine's valve covers did not meet FAA standards, the cooling fan nut spring pin (which helps keep the engine cooling fan in place) was not aligned with indicator marks on the aircraft, and torque striping required by the helicopter's maintenance manual was missing on multiple critical fasteners, according to the memo. The striping makes movement of the fasteners easier to spot.

Jeffrey Rafferty, who at the time was the principal maintenance inspector with the FAA in Long Beach, wrote in the memo that he also substantiated some "nonspecific allegations in the complaint with regard to the operation of several helicopters that may not be in airworthy condition."

For example, Rafferty wrote, a helicopter was flown after the deadline for its annual inspection had passed, which is against FAA regulations. He also wrote that some helicopter maintenance wasn't being documented as required by the agency.

Rafferty went on to say that "Revolution Aviation has addressed all of the discrepancies brought to their attention by the [aviation safety inspectors] during the investigation and put new processes in place to reduce the likeliness of reoccurrence."

An FAA representative declined to comment this week.

Jack Cress, a technology instructor at USC who teaches courses on helicopter and other aircraft accident investigations, said FAA investigations of the type performed on Revolution Aviation are not unusual.

He said the findings about the R44 helicopter weren't particularly egregious. However, he said, it "certainly would be an invitation for a need for more scrutiny."

"Anytime you run across something like that, it could imply a lack of attention to detail," he said.

Anna Robinson, operations director at Revolution Aviation, wrote in a letter to Rafferty on July 31 that the company was notified of some of the issues before the investigation started and had already corrected them.

"No flight instructor or pilot performing his/her duties while working for Revolution Aviation knowingly, deliberately or carelessly operated any aircraft listed in your letter in unairworthy condition," she wrote.

Robinson did not return a call seeking further comment this week.

After the crash in Newport Beach, Eric Spitzer of Spitzer Helicopter, which had leased the R44 to Revolution Aviation, called Revolution "spectacular."

"The minute just a little thing goes wrong, they're on it," he said.

Revolution Aviation's website states the company has a "100% safety record."

However, a Robinson R22 Beta helicopter operated by the company crashed at Long Beach Airport about a month after the FAA's investigation ended in August, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The FAA had noted missing or incorrect torque striping on multiple critical fasteners on the R22.

The preliminary NTSB report on the crash said the student pilot suffered serious injuries.

The student told investigators that as he began to approach the landing pad at an altitude of about 40 feet, the helicopter began to shudder and a horn sounded warning of low rotor rpm. The student's instructor told investigators that the nose began to shift to the left and right and the copter suddenly and rapidly descended, according to the report.

The aircraft, which also was registered to Spitzer Helicopter, hit the ground and rolled onto its side. The cause of the crash, which the NTSB is investigating, has not been released.

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


Eric Spitzer. 
Photo provided by Eric Spitzer.


A helicopter owned by Eric Spitzer, a Canyon Lake resident and former member of the Canyon Lake POA Board of Directors, crashed into a Newport Beach residential neighborhood on Tuesday, killing three of the four occupants on board. The helicopter was on its way to Catalina Island when it crashed.

Eric, owner of Spitzer Helicopter Leasing, said his company leased the R44 to Revolution Aviation, a flight school and touring company. The helicopter is one of seven helicopters Revolution Aviation leases from Eric, who owns a fleet of 85 helicopters.

According to Eric, the pilot was the owner of the flight school. “He was an acquaintance of mine,” said Eric. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families involved in this terrible accident.”

Police and fire personnel responding to the scene found that the helicopter had come to rest at the front of a home on Shearwater Pl. There were a total of five people involved in the collision, four adults in the helicopter and an adult bystander.

According to the Newport Beach Police Department, three of the individuals succumbed to their injuries at the scene. Two other people were injured; one was transported to a local hospital and the other was transported to a local trauma center for medical aid.

At least two structures were impacted by the crash but no one inside the homes was injured as a result of the crash, said the release.

More than 40 firefighters responded from the Newport Beach Fire Department, Costa Mesa Fire Department and Orange County Fire Authority. Volunteers from TIP (Trauma Intervention Program) were on-hand to assist anyone impacted by the accident.

Revolution Aviation was founded in 1960. The company is based in Orange County and uses John Wayne Airport for its daily flight operations.

Eric Spitzer, a ten-year resident of Canyon Lake, has owned Spitzer Helicopter Leasing for 15 years. Eric is served as a member of the Canyon Lake POA Board of Directors from from 2013 to 2017.

http://fridayflyer.com



A Newport Beach businessman who was one of three people killed when a helicopter crashed into a home Tuesday is remembered by his children as the ultimate family man who radiated warmth and passion.

Joseph Anthony Tena, 60, was identified as one of four people aboard the Robinson R44 copter when it slammed into a home on Shearwater Place near Egret Court in the Bayview Terrace community of Newport Beach.

Kimberly Lynne Watzman, 45, of Santa Monica and Brian Reichelt, 56, of Hollywood, Fla., also died in the crash. Two other people — a passenger in the helicopter and a pedestrian on the ground — were injured, authorities said.

The four-seat helicopter went down shortly after taking off from John Wayne Airport on its way to Catalina Island, according to Joshua Cawthra, a senior investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

Authorities have not confirmed who was piloting the copter. Tena, nicknamed "Pepe," is the only person identified in the crash who had a pilot's license, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. He received his private license for helicopters in August 2014.

The NTSB and FAA are investigating the crash.

Tena was born June 13, 1957, in Huelva, Spain. He first came to Southern California in 1975 to attend Pepperdine University. He later immigrated to the area to raise his four daughters — Gabriela, Marta, Alejandra and Carlota — with his second wife, Marta Aza, according to his children.

His family wrote in a statement that Tena loved to travel and often visited relatives in Spain. He also enjoyed playing soccer, boating, music and dancing.

"Truly a bon vivant, he left this life as he lived it, enjoying it to its fullest and not taking any moment for granted," his family wrote.

Tena, a developer and entrepreneur, was the chief executive of Ferrado Group, a real estate investment firm with a location in Newport Beach.

Ferrado Group's lodging holdings include the Standard hotels in the New York, Los Angeles and Miami areas in collaboration with Andre Balazs, according to a 2016 news release.

Watzman was the general manager of the Standard hotel in West Hollywood and had worked for the company for nearly 11 years, according to a company representative. Reichelt had been the regional finance director for parent company Standard International since 2011.

Tena also had an ownership stake in Revolution Aviation, a flight school and touring company at John Wayne Airport that had leased the R44 copter from Spitzer Helicopter LLC of Canyon Lake in Riverside County, according to public records.

Investigators said Tuesday's ill-fated flight was not part of a class or sightseeing tour.

Revolution Aviation called Tena a "dear friend" and "mentor."

"The management of Revolution Aviation wants to express our deep sadness at the loss of those aboard one of our helicopters Tuesday afternoon," the company said in a statement Thursday. "We know their families are heartbroken."

"We also are aware that there was one survivor aboard for whom we wish a rapid and complete recovery," the statement said.

Tena is survived by his daughters; his son, Jose "Joey" Tena, from his first marriage; his grandson, Pepe X. Tena; and his third wife, Lily Glazer.

A paddle-out in Tena's honor is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday near the Newport Pier.

http://www.latimes.com



The Orange County coroner's office has released the names of the three victims who died when a helicopter crashed into a Newport Beach home, and federal investigators have said there were no distress call before the crash.

The victims were: Joseph Anthony Tena, 60, of Newport Beach; Kimberly Lynne Watzman, 45, of Santa Monica; and Brian R. Reichelt, 56, of Hollywood, Florida.

Watzman and Reichelt were both employed with The Standard chain of boutique hotels, which has locations in West Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles, a company spokesperson confirmed.

Watzman had worked with the company for nearly 11 years and was serving as general manager for the West Hollywood hotel.

Watzman's brother told KTLA he lives next door to his sister in Santa Monica. Being the general manager at the Standard in West Hollywood was her dream job, Ryan Watzman said.

"I couldn't have hoped for a better sister," he said. "She was beloved by many people, including all the folks she worked with at the Standard."

Reichelt had worked more than six years for the hotel's parent company, Standard International, as a regional finance director.

“We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our friends,” Amar Lalvani, CEO of Standard International, said in a statement. “Our focus now is on supporting their loved ones and our team during this difficult time.”

It's not clear how Tena knew the other two victims.

The Robinson 44 helicopter they were aboard crashed under unknown circumstances into a home at the corner of Shearwater Place and Egret Court about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday.

The aircraft had departed from John Wayne Airport on its way to Catalina Island when it crashed shortly after takeoff, National Transportation Safety Board Senior Investigator Joshua Cawthra said Wednesday morning.

A total of five people were involved in the crash, including four aboard the helicopter and one bystander on the ground who received minor injuries.

The pilot and two passengers were killed in the crash, and a third passenger was seriously injured, Cawthra said.

It's not yet know which person was the pilot, but of the names of the deceased, only Joseph "Pepe" Tena has a pilot's license, Federal Aviation Administration records show. His license to fly a helicopter as a private pilot was issued in August 2014.

Cawthra said no distress call was ever made from the helicopter before it went down. Maintenance records were being examined Wednesday.

The aircraft is owned by Spitzer Helicopter and was under lease to Revolution Aviation, which offers flight training and tours, according to its website. The flight that crashed was not part of a class or sightseeing tour, Cawthra said.

A probable cause report from the NTSB typically takes months if not more than a year to be completed, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

Orange County Global Medical Center received a patient from the crash scene, hospital spokesman Jeff Corless confirmed. The patient is being treated and is in critical but stable condition, Corless said.

Officials from both the NTSB and the FAA are investigating the crash. On Wednesday, they were combing through the wreckage for clues.


http://ktla.com




Three people killed when a helicopter crashed into a home in a gated neighborhood in Newport Beach on Tuesday have been identified, authorities said Wednesday.

Joseph Anthony Tena, 60, of Newport Beach, Kimberly Lynne Watzman, 45, of Santa Monica and Brian Reichelt, 56, of Hollywood, Florida, died in the crash, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Two other people were injured, authorities said.

Residents said a woman was in the kitchen of the home when the helicopter crashed, damaging a bedroom, but no one in the house was hurt.

Tena, Watzman and Reichelt were among four people aboard the Robinson R44 copter when it slammed into the home on Shearwater Place near Egret Court in the Bayview Terrace community, authorities said. Police responded to the crash at about 1:50 p.m.

The four-seat helicopter went down shortly after taking off from John Wayne Airport on its way to Catalina Island, according to Joshua Cawthra, a senior investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

The pilot and two passengers were killed, Cawthra said.

A third passenger was seriously injured and was taken to Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana in critical but stable condition, hospital spokesman Jeff Corless said.

A person on the ground suffered minor injuries and was treated at a hospital and released, authorities said.

Authorities would not confirm Wednesday who was flying the helicopter.

Tena, nicknamed "Pepe," is the only person identified in the crash who had a pilot's license, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. He received his private license for helicopters in August 2014.

Watzman and Reichelt worked for the Standard chain of boutique hotels, which has locations in West Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles, a company representative said Wednesday.

Watzman was the general manager of the Standard hotel in West Hollywood. She had worked for the company for nearly 11 years.

Reichelt was the regional finance director for parent company Standard International since 2011.

"We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our friends," said Amar Lalvani, chief executive of Standard International. "Our focus now is on supporting their loved ones and our team during this difficult time."

The FAA and NTSB are investigating the crash. Cawthra said no distress call was made from the helicopter before it went down.

FAA records show the copter was registered to Spitzer Helicopter LLC in Canyon Lake in Riverside County. Eric Spitzer of Spitzer Helicopter said he leased the R44 to Revolution Aviation, a flight school and touring company at John Wayne Airport.

Investigators have determined the flight was not part of a class or sightseeing tour, Cawthra said.

Revolution Aviation had been leasing the aircraft — one of 85 helicopters in Spitzer's fleet — since April 2016 and flew it regularly, he said.

Messages left with Revolution Aviation were not returned Tuesday and Wednesday.

The copter was manufactured in 2003 by Robinson Helicopter Co., based in Torrance. The family-owned company's two-seat R22 and four-seat R44 are popular among flight schools, police departments, sightseeing companies, ranchers and recreational pilots.

Bayview Terrace resident Paddi Faubion said Tuesday that she was in her home when she heard a helicopter rotor struggling to turn, as though the aircraft was losing power. She ran to her balcony and watched as the copter clipped the roof of a neighbor's home and slammed into the side of another, sending up a plume of dust.

"It was like a train hitting a wall," Faubion said. "You just knew something horrible had happened."

Several neighbors rushed to the copter's twisted wreckage, and two of them pulled out the pilot, Faubion said. Fuel spilled from the helicopter onto the street.

"I just put my hands on the side of the helicopter and prayed," Faubion said.


http://www.latimes.com




A helicopter crashed into a Newport Beach home Tuesday, killing three people and injuring two others, authorities said.

The four-seat Robinson R44 Raven II crashed "under unknown circumstances" about 1:45 p.m. after taking off from John Wayne Airport, said Ian Gregor, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

Four people onboard and one pedestrian were involved in the crash, although it was unclear who among them was killed, said Newport Beach police spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella.

The two people who were injured were taken to a hospital and trauma center for treatment.

Paddi Faubion was inside her home in the Bayview Terrace neighborhood when she heard helicopter propellers slowing down, as if an aircraft was losing power.

She ran to her balcony and watched a helicopter clip the roof of a neighbor's home before slamming into the side of another on Shearwater Place, sending up a plume of dust and dirt.

"It was like a train hitting a wall," she said. "You just knew something horrible had happened."

It was a grisly, chaotic scene of twisted metal, something that longtime neighbors said they had never before experienced in their quiet community.

Several neighbors rushed to the aircraft to help. Two neighbors pulled out the pilot, who looked extremely pale, his mouth bloodied, she said. Gasoline spilled from the helicopter onto the street.

A woman was in the kitchen when the helicopter crashed, damaging a bedroom, Faubion said.

"She was inconsolable," Faubion said. "I just put my hands on the side of the helicopter and prayed."

Eric Spitzer, of Spitzer Helicopter Leasing, said he leased the Robinson R44 Raven II to Revolution Aviation, a flight school and touring company at John Wayne Airport.

"I'm shocked because it just came out of getting updated avionics" a week ago, Spitzer said, though he didn't know exactly what that entailed. "I paid the bill."

Spitzer said that with three passengers on board, the pilot, a friend of his who owns the aviation company, was likely conducting a tour.

Revolution Aviation had been leasing the aircraft — one of 85 helicopters in Spitzer's fleet — since April 2016 and flew it regularly, he said.

"Revolution is spectacular," Spitzer said. "The minute just a little thing goes wrong, they're on it."
   
Newport Beach Mayor Marshall "Duffy" Duffield, who represents the City Council district that includes Bayview Terrace, said his son, a commercial helicopter pilot, told him about the crash. Both were in Duffield's office afterward listening intently to radio traffic.

"It's quite a tight-knit fraternity," Duffield said of copter pilots.

Revolution Aviation did not return a call for comment.

FAA records show that the helicopter involved in Tuesday's crash was registered to Spitzer Helicopter LLC in Canyon Lake in Riverside County.

It was manufactured in 2003 by the Robinson Helicopter Co., based in Torrance. The family-owned company's two-seat R22 and four-seat R44 are among the most popular civilian helicopters in the world.

Lightweight and relatively affordable, they are a top choice for flight schools, police departments, sightseeing companies, ranchers and recreational pilots.

Tuesday's crash was at least the third serious accident in Southern California in the last year involving an R44, National Transportation Safety Board records show.

Last May, the pilot and two passengers aboard an R44 suffered serious injuries when it crash-landed on a golf-course maintenance yard near Santa Barbara.

Two months later, an R44 lost power and landed hard on a city street in Sherman Oaks, injuring the pilot and three passengers.

The FAA and the NTSB will investigate Tuesday's accident.

Story, video and photo gallery:  http://www.latimes.com



NEWPORT BEACH – Three people were killed and two injured Tuesday afternoon when a helicopter that had taken off from nearby John Wayne Airport crashed up against a house in a neighborhood on the northeast end of Upper Newport Bay.

Four people were aboard the helicopter, with an adult bystander on the ground outside the house the fifth affected by the crash, said authorities, who declined to release other details of the casualties.

Newport Beach fire officials said they got the first call at 1:51 p.m. about a helicopter clipping a corner house at Egret Court and Shearwater Place.

Neighbors ran outside their gated Bayview Terrace homes to see what had happened.

“I went down with three helicopters,” said David Henry, a Vietnam vet. “I recognized the noise and we came out and I saw the pilot … about 10 to 15 feet away from the helicopter. …

“There were about three others, all jammed inside there like sardines,” Henry said. “We tried to peel back the aluminum and help them.”

Paramedics arrived and were able to get to the others; Henry thought there were two men and two women aboard.

“They had to use the Jaws of Life to get them out,” he said.

The four-seat, Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter pushed in a master bedroom wall; the aircraft’s tail section ended up in a side yard.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have launched investigations on what led to the incident. The helicopter had taken off at some point from John Wayne, about a mile and a half away, but it is unclear if the pilot had just left the airport, was landing or in mid-flight when the crash occurred.

The downed aircraft is owned by Spitzer Helicopter Leasing in Canyon Lake. Eric Spitzer, the company’s president, said he leases it and six others to Revolution Aviation, a flight school at John Wayne Airport. Revolution offers pilot training, sightseeing tours and special events, and has a 100 percent safety record, according to its website.

Mark Robinson, Revolution’s CEO, was not aboard the helicopter. Robinson, in a text to a reporter Tuesday night, said he couldn’t talk more now but did say, “Please say prayers.”

Mark Robinson is not related to the owners of Torrance-based Robinson Helicopter Co., founded by Frank Robinson and now headed by his son, Kurt Robinson, said company spokeswoman Loretta Conley.

“We’re pretty shaken up over the crash this afternoon – it’s pretty devastating,” Conley said. “We have people (who can) assist the authorities in their investigation. … We’re devastated by (the accident), and we’ll do our best to help people out.”

Robinson is designed to be an inexpensive helicopter that’s relatively easy to fly and is widely used around the world for ranching, aerial photography and sight-seeing. Robinson is the world’s largest manufacturer of such choppers.

But some pilots and regulators say the craft is prone to “mast-bumping,” a problem that can be caused by an inexperienced pilot and can lead to fatal crashes. A mast bump is contact between an inner part of a main rotor blade and the main rotor drive shaft, or “mast.”

It is not known if mast bumping had anything to do with Tuesday’s crash.

The company sees additional pilot training as the key to preventing mast bumping. But the issue has come under scrutiny from regulators in New Zealand and Australia and drawn a string of lawsuits alleging manufacturing defects are to blame.

In the past five years, according to the NTSB’s database, three other aircraft have had accidents near John Wayne Airport.

The database was not yet updated to include an incident on Sunday in which a pilot flew beneath an overpass and made a safe emergency landing on the 55 freeway in Costa Mesa after his aircraft, a Beech 633, lost power. No one was injured in that incident.

One accident, involving the same make and model of helicopter involved in Tuesday’s crash, had a problem on takeoff last July and came down hard at the airport. Another accident involved a Cessna plane that lost an engine and crash-landed onto I-405 in June. The helicopter pilot who crashed at the airport was not injured, and the Cessna’s occupants were injured.

Another incident happened Dec. 26 and involved a Cessna, but little information has been released by the NTSB.

Paddi Faubion, who lives across the street from the house that was hit Tuesday, heard what sounded like a train before the crash.

“You think to yourself that maybe something could happen, living so close (to the airport),” she said. “But this time I just remember thinking that something was going to fall onto my house.”

When she went outside to see what was happening, “There was just this cloud of dust everywhere. One guy was outside (of the helicopter), and he was bleeding from the mouth.”

She and other neighbors hurried over to offer help, but the helicopter was scrunched up, trapping the others inside. Firefighters arrived and cut the fuselage to get the other three out.

The helicopter had hit the outside of the master bedroom of her neighbor’s house; her neighbor was in the kitchen at the time, Faubion said.

“She was shaking so much,” Faubion said of her neighbor. “Her husband was right across the street (at a house) when it happened, too.”

Immediately, she was fearful that those inside the helicopter could not have survived.

“I just put my hand over (the) helicopter, and I prayed for them. … It’s just tragic.”

Story and photo gallery ➤ https://www.ocregister.com




NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Three people were killed and two injured when a helicopter crashed into a house in Newport Beach Tuesday afternoon, officials said.

The crash was reported around 1:45 p.m. at Egret Court and Shearwater Place in the Bay View Terrace community.

The Robinson R44 Raven II struck the yard and wall of the home. A piece of the tail rotor was seen lodged in the tiled roof of a home across the street.

Newport Beach police said there were four people on the aircraft and one on the ground who was also apparently struck by some debris from the crash.

The Robinson R44 Raven II is based out of John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, which is only about a mile from the crash site. The helicopter's manufacturer, Robinson Helicopter Co. is based in Torrance. The operator is Santa Ana-based Revolution Aviation.

Revolution Aviation is known for providing scenic tours and it teamed up with Canyon High School to teach students about aviation and possible careers.

The company CEO, Mark Robinson, said the thoughts and prayers of the company were with the victims and families involved in the crash.

Witness accounts and skid marks and debris indicate the aircraft's rotor may have first struck the roof of the other house as it was coming down, then hit the ground and skidded into the front wall of the home.

A woman who lives in the neighborhood heard the crash and ran outside to witness the immediate aftermath.

"I thought it was falling on my home," she told Eyewitness News. "It was just this intense loud noise. It sounded like a train coming through."

She ran outside and saw a chaotic and gruesome sight.

"I put my hand on the back of the helicopter and started praying over them. Because I knew at that point there weren't any survivors."

She said she knows the people who live in the home where the helicopter crashed. A woman was home at the time, but was in the kitchen and did not suffer any injuries.

The coroner identified some of the victims, but did not release the information to the public Tuesday.

National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration officials are investigating the cause of the crash.

Story, video and photo gallery ➤ http://abc7chicago.com
































NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA) — Three people were killed and two others were injured Tuesday when an Orange County-based tour and flight-training helicopter crashed into a home about a mile away from John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

Officials responded to reports of a Robinson R44 down at around 2 p.m. on Shearwater Place in the Baycrest neighborhood of Newport Beach.

Although the residents of the home that was struck were inside the home at the time of the crash, police say none of the residents appeared to be hurt.

Newport Beach Police say a total of five people were involved in the accident, one of which was a bystander on the ground. The other four victims were on board the Robinson R44 helicopter owned by Revolution Aviation.

Revolution Aviation has been offering pilot training and sightseeing trips since the 1960s. The company’s website claims to have a 100 percent safety record.

Two people were transported to area hospitals and their conditions are unknown. Authorities did not say whether or not the three people who died were aboard the helicopter.

Story, video and photo gallery ➤ http://losangeles.cbslocal.com