Saturday, April 06, 2019

Robinson R44 Raven II, N4046J: Fatal accident occurred April 04, 2019 in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Tampa, Florida
Lycoming Engines; Atlanta, Georgia
Robinson Helicopters; Los Angeles, California

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Tampa, FL
Accident Number: ERA19FA142
Date & Time: 04/04/2019, 1416 EDT
Registration: N4046J
Aircraft: ROBINSON R44 II
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious, 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On April 4, 2019, about 1416 eastern daylight time, a Robinson R44, N4046J, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a roadway near Tampa, Florida. The pilot and passenger were not injured. The passenger in a vehicle was fatally injured and the driver incurred minor injuries from flying debris. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the positioning flight, which was destined for Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), Sarasota, Florida. The flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the owner of the helicopter, he was flying on March 31, 2019 from Naples Municipal Airport (APF), Naples, Florida, to Cross-City Airport (CTY), Cross City, Florida. He stated that he had flown for about one hour at an altitude of 1,000 ft when the helicopter's engine completely lost power. He located a field to land in and performed an autorotation to the ground. The helicopter was not damaged during the landing. He further stated that he restarted the engine and it ran at idle for several minutes before he pulled on the collective and the engine lost power again. He restarted the engine for a second time and kept the main rotor disengaged while he ran the engine up to 100% power without a load; the engine ran well. Then he engaged the main rotor, and when he started to pull on the collective, the engine lost power again. He shut the engine down, contacted the helicopter manufacturer, and asked them to repair the helicopter. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector contacted the pilot on the morning of April 4 to tell him the helicopter was being worked on by two mechanics from Florida Suncoast Helicopters.

According to the FAA inspector, he traveled to the field where the helicopter had landed on the morning of April 4. There he observed Florida Suncoast Helicopters mechanics as they performed maintenance on the helicopter. The mechanics told the inspector that they had cleaned the fuel screen and looked for contamination. Then, a company pilot employed by Suncoast Helicopters started the engine and let it warm up. He pulled on the collective and the engine lost total power. After further discussion with the helicopter manufacturer, the mechanics decided to replace the fuel servo unit with a new one. The FAA inspector then departed, and asked the mechanics to call after the repairs were complete, and to tell him what was repaired.

According to the mechanics and pilot employed by Suncoast Helicopters, after the fuel servo unit was changed, the pilot test ran the engine and hovered the helicopter for several minutes. No problems were noted. The pilot and one of the mechanics boarded the helicopter and departed the field at 1401, with the intent of moving the helicopter to SRQ. At 1416, the engine lost total power and the pilot performed an autorotation to a roadway.

After touchdown on the roadway, the helicopter slid on the pavement due to its forward momentum. The helicopter slid sideways, and the main rotor blades contacted a telephone pole. An approximately 2 ½-foot-long piece of the main rotor blade fractured off and flew into a truck driving down the street. The blade went through the windshield and fatally injured the passenger of the truck, while the driver sustained minor injuries.

The helicopter came to rest on South 50th Street about 100 ft from the intersection of Palm River Rd. The helicopter was oriented on a heading of 180°. The helicopter was next to a telephone pole and the main rotor cut the telephone pole in half. Both main rotor blades were fractured at the tips and had telephone cable cuts down the blades. The skids on the helicopter were damaged consistent with a hard landing, and the skids' main brace was fractured. The tail cone was buckled on the top located at the second bay. One pitch link for the rotor blade was fractured off. The vertical firewall was wrinkled at the lower right corner.

Examination of the engine revealed that the induction air inlet duct was partially collapsed. The inner rubberized fabric liner of the duct had partially delaminated and separated from the outer rubberized fabric, obstructing the interior volume of the duct. The wire stiffener between the two layers of fabric was displaced in two locations near the center of the duct length, at the 90° bend. No other discrepancies of the airframe or engine were noted.

The duct was retained for further examination.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for rotorcraft-helicopter. He held an FAA-issued second-class medical certificate, dated March 20, 2019. According to the pilot's logbook, he had a total of 657.9 hours of flight experience.

The four-seat helicopter was manufactured in 2019. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-540-AE1A5, 260-horsepower engine. At the time of the accident, the airframe and engine total time was 81.34 hours.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: ROBINSON
Registration: N4046J
Model/Series: R44 II No Series
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: BC Dental Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KTPF, 8 ft msl
Observation Time: 1815 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 18°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 4500 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots / , 80°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 9500 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.22 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Tampa, FL
Destination: Sarasota, FL (SRQ)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious, 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 27.943333, -82.401944 (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

Deodat Hilton Gangapersaud
October 14th, 1946 - April 4th, 2019

On Thursday, April 4, 2019, Deodat Hilton Gangapersaud was taken from his family in a horrific helicopter accident in Tampa, Florida. He was the son of the late Ganga and Tulia Persaud of Whim, Guyana. 

Hilton was born on October 14, 1946 in Whim, Guyana. He migrated to the United States in 1979 and resided with his wife and children in Maryland until 2005. 

Hilton worked at the World Bank in Washington, D.C for over 20 years. There, he was a special police officer known as Sergeant Ganga.

In 2005, Hilton relocated to Tampa, Florida with his loving wife and four of his children. He came to Florida to retire early and do the things he loved: gardening, working on cars, raising livestock and being able to enjoy his family and dogs. 

Hilton was a busy body, he could never sit still and let time pass. This resulted in him going back into the workforce for an additional five years until he retired again at the age of 65. Even after he retired from the workforce for the second time, he ended up building his own mechanic shop from the ground up with the help of his sons. This mechanic shop was his hobby that he took great pride in.

Hilton brought life and laughter into the lives of anyone he touched. He was a family man who many gravitated towards. There was never a dull moment with him. If he wasn’t telling you a joke, then he was dancing or singing with you. He didn’t have any friends because he considered everyone family. He was not only a provider, but also a giver. He would never let you leave his home without a gift.

Hilton is survived by his devoted wife, Grace, of 38 years; along with their five children: two sons: Milton and Ryan; three daughters: Jasmine and her husband Richard, Neelomie and her husband William, and the youngest, Sharita; eight grandchildren: Camisha, Nicholas, Alexia, Joshua, Mariah, William III, Yolanda, and Zion Hilton; one great-grandson: Jaden; three brothers: Balchand, Baljiet, and Moti; five sisters: Lynette, Zeena, Liloutie, Calo, and Nadira; several cousins, nieces, nephews, and a host of relatives and friends.  Hilton was preceded in death by his parents: Ganga and Tulia Persaud and brother Charlie Persaud. 

“Death leaves a heartache,
no one can heal
Love leaves a memory,
No one can steal”

So with you: Now is your time of grief,
but I will see you again and you will rejoice,
and no one will take away your joy
John 16:22

PALM RIVER, Florida — One person is dead following a helicopter crash in Palm River Thursday afternoon.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, a helicopter suffered a catastrophic engine failure and made a hard landing on 50th Street at Palm River Road a little before 2:30 p.m.

Bryan Messick, 39, was piloting the helicopter while Joshua Wells, 21, was co-piloting.

After the hard landing, one of the rotor blades came off, hitting a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck that was carrying 72-year-old Deodat Gangapersaud and his son, 35-year-old Ryan Persaud. The rotor blade hit Deodat, who was a passenger in the the truck. He suffered fatal injuries.

Deputies said Ryan, who was driving the truck, was transported to Tampa General Hospital. Officials said he suffered minor cuts.

"You could start hearing the blades. I turn around and see the helicopter about like 20 feet above the air," witness Alejandor Bou-Colon said. "It tries to crash land in that patch of grass. But, then it kept on sliding and sliding until it hit that pole right about there and cut it in half. It was very scary. It was really close. It could’ve been us."

Witnesses couldn't believe the father in the truck was killed so far away from the crash site.

According to deputies, the two people in the helicopter were highly trained pilots and had recently been in for service. The chopper was on its way to Sarasota before pieces of blades fell off.

Dan Boggs with the National Transportation Safety Board told ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska the helicopter is brand new.

"It’s only a couple of months old. We will be doing a complete and full investigation," Boggs said.

The pilot told investigators he had a catastrophic engine failure.

"The pilot did a great job he came in he was auto rotating which means he was using gravity to make sure the rotor blades were spinning fast enough," Boggs said. "I looked at the surveillance video there was a truck underneath him. He made sure he did not land on the truck; he was floating it as hard as he could til the truck passed by if this had been on grass he’d of probably stopped right where he landed. He really did about the best job you can do in that situation."

The helicopter is a Robinson R44 Raven II with tail number N4046J.

FlightAware tracking shows the path the helicopter took and where it crashed.

The National Transportation Safety Board expects to release a preliminary report of their findings in a couple of weeks. It will take at least 18 months for their final report.

Story and video ➤

TAMPA, Florida  — A helicopter attempting to make an emergency landing crashed onto a busy street on Thursday, sending one of its rotors flying into a passing vehicle, killing a passenger, authorities said.

The crash took place at about 2:21 p.m. near the intersection of S 50th Street and Palm River Road. The blue Robinson R44 helicopter suffered catastrophic engine failure, said Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister at a news conference held at the crash scene.

The helicopter was attempting to make a “hard landing,” the sheriff said, when it struck a telephone pole. That caused one of the rotor blades to break off, fly across the street and strike a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck that was traveling north on S 50th Street.

The severed rotor killed a passenger, the father of the driver.

Alejandro Bou-Colon said he saw the helicopter fall from the sky. He works at Top Choice Automobile Sales at 506 S 50th St., which is right next to the crash site.

He said it looked like the helicopter was trying to land on a patch of grass. Instead, it came down fast, hit the ground and started skidding across the roadway before hitting a pole. He said debris went flying everywhere.

The Sheriff's Office did not release the names of those involved in the deadly crash.

The pickup driver was also injured and taken to Tampa General Hospital for treatment. The sheriff did not say how seriously injured he was.

The helicopter pilot was taken to a local hospital to be treated for heat exhaustion and dehydration and may also have injured in the crash.

The unidentified pilot was “highly trained,” the sheriff said. Chronister said the helicopter had just been serviced, passed several tests and was deemed to be functioning properly.

The sheriff said the helicopter was on its way to Sarasota when the pilot experienced engine failure.

When asked if the pilot handled the emergency landing the best possible way, Chronister said “depends who you ask.”

“I’m sure the passenger of that truck probably doesn’t feel that way right now ...,” the sheriff said, but noted it could have been worse: “We have one death when it could’ve been more.”

The National Transportation Safety Board will send investigators to the site to start examining the helicopter crash, Chronister said. The Florida Highway Patrol will investigate the death of the truck passenger.

“I'm not a flight investigator by any means,” the sheriff said, “but I can say thank God nobody else was injured.”

Story and video ➤

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