Thursday, February 24, 2022

Sikorsky S-61N, N615CK: Fatal accident occurred February 22, 2022 near Pacific Missile Range Facility (PHBK), Kekaha, Kauai County, Hawaii

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 traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Honolulu, Hawaii
Croman Corporation
Sikorsky Aircraft
GE Engines

Location: Kekaha, Hawaii
Accident Number: ANC22FA018
Date and Time: February 22, 2022, 10:20 Local 
Registration: N615CK
Aircraft: Sikorsky S-61N
Injuries: 4 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 133: Rotorcraft ext. load

On February 22, 2022, about 1020 Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time, a Sikorsky S-61N helicopter, N615CK, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Barking Sands, Kekaha, Hawaii, on the island of Kauai. The two pilots and two crewmembers were fatally injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 133 flight.

The accident helicopter, owned and operated by Croman Corporation, was under contract to the United States Navy, being used to retrieve inert training torpedoes from the Pacific Ocean as part of the Navy’s, ongoing, Pacific submarine training operations. According to the operator’s director of operations, the accident mission involved locating a training torpedo in the open waters, retrieving the torpedo using a recovery basket/cage system, then returning the torpedo to the PMRF by sling load.

The helicopter was equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS–B), which provides aircraft tracking to determine its position via satellite navigation or other sensors and periodically broadcasts it, enabling it to be tracked. The information can be received by air traffic control ground stations as a replacement for secondary surveillance radar, as no interrogation signal is needed from the ground.

According to archived Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ADS-B data, after the helicopter departed Barking Sands PMRF, it proceeded north-northwest to an area about 44 miles away. After maneuvering in the area, the helicopter then proceeded south-southeast towards the Barking Sands PMRF. As the helicopter approached the Barking Sands PMRF, it crossed the shoreline, then it began a shallow left turn as it maneuvered to the north, and into the prevailing wind. As the helicopter neared the predetermined drop-off site, known as the ordnance recovery cage area (ORCA), the left turn stopped, and the helicopter proceeded in a northeasterly direction. The archived ADS–B data stopped recording just before impact. 

Multiple witnesses located near the accident site consistently reported that as the helicopter continued the left turn towards the ORCA, the turn unexpectantly stopped, and it began to travel in a northeast direction. The witnesses noted that as the helicopter flew in a north easterly direction, about 200 feet above the ground, it gradually pitched nose down and impacted nose first, in a near vertical attitude. 

A postcrash fire ensued, which incinerated much of the helicopter’s structure.

Two investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) Alaska Regional Office, along with a helicopter aerospace engineer from Washington D.C., responded to the accident site and examined the helicopter wreckage on February 23-28. During the detailed on-scene examination, the investigative team retained various components for additional examination and testing, and results are pending. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Sikorsky 
Registration: N615CK
Model/Series: S-61N 
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Rotorcraft external load (133)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PHBK, 12 ft msl
Observation Time: 10:51 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C /18°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 280°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.1 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Kekaha, HI
Destination: Kekaha, HI

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 4 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 4 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 22.040149,-159.78055 

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290. 

The four, who worked for the Croman Corporation, were identified as:

Daniel Maurice, 64, the chief pilot and FAA-designated pilot examiner
Patrick Rader, 55, command pilot
Erika Teves-Valdez, 42, mechanic and aircrew
Matthew Haider, 44, mechanic and aircrew

Mathew Haider

A civilian contractor working for the U.S. Navy has released the names of four employees killed when their helicopter crashed on the Hawaii island of Kauai. Oregon-based Croman Corp. says 64-year-old Daniel Maurice of Lyle, Washington, was the chief pilot. Also onboard were three Kauai residents: Command Pilot Patrick Rader and two mechanics, Ericka Tevez-Valdez and Mathew Haider. Croman says the crew was conducting routine training operations at the Pacific Missile Range Facility under contract with the Navy when their Sikorsky S-61N helicopter crashed Tuesday. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

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