Saturday, July 31, 2021

Enstrom 280 Shark, N754MH: Accident occurred July 30, 2021 in Colchester, Chittenden County, Vermont

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.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; South Portland, Maine
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Enstrom Helicopters; Menominee, Michigan 
Beta Technologies; South Burlington, Vermont

Beta Air LLC


Posted on Kathryn's Report
Location: Colchester, VT
Accident Number: ERA21LA309
Date & Time: July 30, 2021, 16:25 Local 
Registration: N36DK
Aircraft: Enstrom 280FX 
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Business

On July 30, 2021, about 1625 eastern daylight time, an Enstrom 280FX helicopter, N36DK, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Colchester, Vermont. The commercial pilot incurred serious injuries. The helicopter was operated by Beta Air LLC. as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 business flight.

The pilot reported that he departed for a flight from Plattsburgh International Airport (PGB) Plattsburgh, New York to Burlington International Airport (BTV), Burlington, Vermont. While enroute to BTV the pilot “smelled something burning and then observed smoke in the cockpit.”  He initiated a precautionary landing; however, he then experienced a partial and then full loss of engine power in “rapid succession.” He added that the loss of engine power began with a rising exhaust gas temperature. The pilot subsequently completed an autorotation landing on the Lake Champlain Causeway.

Photographs provided by the operator and the Federal Aviation Administration showed that the helicopter came to rest partially on the road and rocks that lined the causeway. The airframe was destroyed by fire. The helicopter was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Enstrom
Registration: N36DK
Model/Series: 280FX NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: BTV,340 ft msl
Observation Time: 16:54 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 9 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 21°C /7°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 13 knots / 22 knots, 310°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 5500 ft AGL 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.84 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Plattsburgh, NY (PBG)
Destination: Burlington, VT (BTV)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: Both in-flight and on-ground
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious 
Latitude, Longitude: 44.568671,-73.313212 
Posted on Kathryn's Report


COLCHESTER, Vermont  (WCAX) - The Colchester Causeway is back open after a helicopter crashed into it Friday afternoon. The pilot, who was the only one on board, was able to climb out of the fiery wreckage.

Bikers were stranded on opposite ends of the causeway, the air smelled like gasoline, and crews were on scene trying to piece together what happened. Three hours after the helicopter crashed into the Colchester Causeway, the wreckage was hauled away on a trailer, but the investigation continues. “There’s fragments of it spread in the area, so it looks like it broke apart,” said Colchester Assistant Fire Chief Seth Lasker.

Photos from witnesses show the moments the plane burst into flames. Officials on scene said it appears mechanical issues are to blame.

“The NTSB is interested in this and has been consulted,” Lasker said. “We’re waiting for word on them as to how we’re going to proceed further.”

Lasker said the rotorcraft was on fire when they arrived. The pilot, 31 year-old Nathaniel Fortin, was walking toward them. Lasker says Fortin suffered minor to moderate injuries and was transported to UVM Medical Center.

The helicopter was owned by BETA technologies. In a statement, they said the rotorcraft was a conventional gas-powered helicopter. According to them, Fortin is a certified flight instructor. They say this was a ‘precautionary emergency landing.’

“I don’t know what the circumstances of the helicopter were but he’s alive, so I’d have to say he did pretty well,” Lasker said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.


Nathaniel Fortin





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