Saturday, March 30, 2019

Eurocopter AS 350B3 Ecureuil, owned by Mountain Air Helicopters, Inc and operated by the United States Forest Service as a public use helicopter, N818MC: Fatal accident occurred March 27, 2019 in Conroe, Montgomery County, Texas

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Houston, Texas
Federal Aviation Administration Rotorcraft Directorate; Fort Worth, Texas

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Montogomery, TX
Accident Number: CEN19FA109
Date & Time: 03/27/2019, 1435 CDT
Registration: N818MC
Aircraft: Aerospatiale AS350
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Public Aircraft

On March 27, 2019, about 1435 central daylight time, an Airbus AS350B3 helicopter, N818MC, was substantially damaged when it collided with trees and terrain following a loss of engine power near Montgomery, Texas. The commercial rated pilot was seriously injured, one Forest Service crew member was fatally injured, and another crew member sustained minor injuries. The helicopter was owned by Mountain Air Helicopters, Inc and operated by the United States Forest Service (USFS) as a public use helicopter. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight which operated without a flight plan.

The helicopter and crew were conducting plastic sphere dispenser (PSD) applications in support of controlled fire operations in an area of the Sam Houston National Forest. Initial information provided by the pilot and surviving crew member report that after completing the application, the helicopter began flying back to the helicopter's staging area when the engine lost complete power. The helicopter descended into trees and subsequently impacted terrain, coming to rest on its right side. One crew member and the pilot were able to exit the helicopter, however one of the crew members was partially ejected from the helicopter and sustained fatal injuries.

The helicopter was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Aerospatiale
Registration: N818MC
Model/Series: AS350 B3
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Mountain Air Helicopters Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Rotorcraft External Load (133); On-demand Air Taxi (135)
Operator Does Business As:
Operator Designator Code: MHHA

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCXO, 245 ft msl
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site: 21 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling:
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 30.510278, -95.770833 (est)

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

Daniel J. Laird, a helitack captain from the Tahoe National Forest, died Wednesday in a helicopter accident on the Sam Houston National Forest in Montgomery County, Texas.

Laird, 41, was on temporary assignment to the Sam Houston National Forest due to his experience as a long-time helitack member. He became a permanent helitack member in 2003 after serving as a seasonal employee. He is survived by his wife and daughter.

Laird, a 23-year Forest Service employee, was joined by two other crew members on a helicopter assisting a routine controlled burn on the forest when the helicopter went down. The two other crew members were transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The incident is currently under investigation.

“Daniel started as a seasonal firefighter on the Tahoe and worked his way up to Helitack Captain. His passion was in aviation, but he was also known for his ability to lead a strike team of engines or a task force of hand crews and heavy equipment. He was a true leader in every sense. He was dedicated to being an instructor and a believer in the apprentice program, where he helped grow people just like himself. Daniel was originally from Graeagle, CA, and committed his working life to the Forest Service. He was extremely knowledgeable about his craft and loved his job. He had an infectious smile, natural physical talent, and his greatest love of all was his family,” said Randy Moore, Forest Service Region 5 Regional Forester.

“Our hearts and condolences go out to Daniel, his family, friends, and co-workers,” said Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “We’re very proud of his service and commitment to the agency and our nation. Tragedies of this nature serve as a reminder of the honorable work and sacrifices made by women and men like Daniel. They daily commit themselves to supporting and protecting communities around the country.”

Forest Service spokesperson Joe Navratil said, “The USDA Forest Service is providing Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) to Daniel’s co-workers on the Tahoe National Forest and other agency personnel affected by his tragic loss. The CISM consists of critical incident stress debriefing as well as peer-to-peer support. The effort is carried out by a team of professional clinicians and agency employees trained in grief support and with professional oversight. The team will provide care as long as is needed.”

Editor’s note: Our sincere condolences to Daniel’s family, friends and his coworkers on the Tahoe National Forest.

Original article can be found here ➤

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A helicopter assisting with a controlled burn operation in the Sam Houston National Forest crashed Wednesday afternoon, killing one person and injuring two others on board.

According to the Texas Department of Safety, a 2009 Eurocopter AS 350 went down near Bethel Road, about four miles south of FM 149. 

The two victims injured in the crash were transported to Conroe Regional Medical Center in stable condition, DPS said. 

DPS added that there were two firefighters and a pilot on board. A male firefighter died on impact, officials said. A female firefighter and the pilot were alert and talking. 

No firefighters on the ground were injured. 

Officials with the FAA are investigating while the NTSB is expected to arrive tomorrow. 

It's not immediately known what caused the helicopter to crash. 

Story and video ➤

Authorities are investigating a deadly helicopter crash in northwest Montgomery County on Wednesday.

A 2009 Eurocopter AStar 350 helicopter assisting the U.S. Forest Service with a controlled burn in the Sam Houston National Forest crashed, killing one firefighter on board and injuring two others in the helicopter, according to The Texas Department of Public Safety.

DPS tweeted that the helicopter reportedly went down on Bethel Road near FM 149.

One person inside the chopper died on scene, while the two others, a U.S. Forest Service employee and the helicopter's pilot, have been taken to a hospital, according to DPS.

They were rushed to Conroe Regional Medical Center in stable condition.

The FAA is investigating.

Story and photo gallery ➤

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