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NTSB Preliminary Report: Croydon, NH

Location:

Croydon, NH

Accident Number:

ERA24FA003

Date & Time:

October 8, 2023, 19:32 Local

Registration:

N802JR

Aircraft:                           BELL HELICOPTER TEXTRON CANADA 407

Flight Conducted Under:    Part 91: General aviation - Positioning

Injuries:                      1 Fatal

On October 8, 2023, about 1932 eastern daylight time, a Bell 407 helicopter, N802JR, was involved in an accident near Croydon, New Hampshire. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter was operated by JBI Helicopter Services under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a positioning flight.

According to the operator, on October 6, 2023, the accident pilot, in the accident helicopter, was conducting visual powerline patrols in the region of the accident site. Due to poor weather at the operator’s base near Pembroke, New Hampshire, the pilot elected to land on private property that had a large field and was known to company pilots as a safe area to land should weather prevent their return to base. The pilot was then picked up by car and ended his shift later that afternoon. The accident pilot did not work on the following day.

On October 8, 2023, about 1700, management personnel from the operator contacted the accident pilot and detailed a mission to be conducted the following day at Quonset State Airport (OQU), North Kingstown, Rhode Island. The mission involved a photo flight to commence on Monday, October 9, 2023. The pilot then drove his vehicle to the property where he had landed at on October 6. The accident flight was to be a positioning flight to OQU, which was 115 miles south of the departure area

According to the operator, at 1922 the helicopter became active on their flight tracking software. The first alert/indication on the tracking software was that battery power had been turned on to the helicopter.

Preliminary data recovered from an Appareo Vision 1000 Airborne Image Recording System showed that the helicopter took off about 1931:30, climbed vertically to about 500 ft above ground level, and began flying towards the northeast. About 30 seconds of flight data was recorded, which showed that the helicopter climbed toward the northeast to about 600-700 ft above ground level. The helicopter then turned east and eventually southeast, and as the helicopter turned, it began descending while its ground speed gradually increased. The helicopter subsequently impacted trees and terrain about 600 feet southeast of the helicopter’s last recorded position. Figure 1 provides an overview of the flight track, select callouts for time, altitude, and speed, as well as the wreckage location.
Figure 1 - Overview of the flight track (white dots); callouts of the helicopter’s position, speed and altitude (black dots); and wreckage location (red dots and shaded box).

According to a witness, who was located under the helicopters flight path, she heard the helicopter flying over her house, and described that “it was so loud” and “so low.” She immediately went outside and saw a helicopter with its lights on and the engine was “very loud.” The helicopter disappeared from her view and the sound of the helicopter abruptly stopped, but she did not hear the sound of an impact.

She recalled observing the stars after the helicopter flew by. She could not recall seeing the moon and described the night as a “dark night.” There was no wind, nor any rain or clouds that she observed.

Shortly after the accident occurred, the company personnel from the operator noticed that the helicopter was no longer broadcasting a position, and they immediately initiated a search and notified local authorities. The wreckage was located about 0200 on October 9, 2023.

The wreckage debris path was oriented on a southernly heading of about 193° and spanned about 485 ft from the initial impact point to the fuselage and engine, which were co-located. The initial impact point coincided with a pine tree that was about 100 ft tall. A strong odor of fuel was smelled at the accident site. All major components of the helicopter were located in the debris field and portions of the helicopter were heavily fragmented along the debris area.

The pilot cyclic (right side) was manipulated by hand and corresponding movement of the control tubes to the right and left servo actuators were observed. The right collective was manipulated by hand and corresponding movement to the center servo actuator was observed. Directional control continuity was observed from the right-side anti-torque pedals to a fractured control tube aft of the servo actuators.

The tail boom had separated from the fuselage and was located in the debris path. Along the tail rotor drive shaft, multiple areas of rotational scoring were observed. Rotation of the tail rotor gearbox was accomplished by turning the tail rotor yoke by hand. The rotation was smooth and exhibited no evidence of binding or restrictions. Three of the four main rotor blades came to rest with the fuselage. They each displayed varying degrees of impact damage. The remaining main rotor blade had heavily fragmented, and its pieces were located scattered along the debris field.

The aft fuselage, including the engine, was found inverted and partially buried in mud. The main output drive shaft could be rotated by hand. Rotation was smooth, with no unusual binding or noise from the power turbine and N2 drive drain. Manual rotation of the tail rotor drive output shaft produced similar results. Visual examination of the compressor revealed minor hard-body impacts to the compressor blades’ leading edges, as well as several blades with tip bending in the opposite direction of rotation. The compressor (N1) was free to rotate smoothly.

The helicopter was retained for further examination.

According to FAA airman records, the commercial pilot held ratings for airplane single-engine land and sea, in addition to multi-engine land. He also held ratings for rotorcraft helicopter, instrument airplane and helicopter. He held a flight instructor certificate, with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine, and rotorcraft helicopter. On October 19, 2022, he was issued a second-class medical certificate, with an interim issuance denoting it was not valid for any class after October 31, 2023.

On September 11, 2023, the pilot reported on a pilot history insurance form, that he possessed 13,780 flight hours, of which 1,377 hours were logged in the Bell 407. He reported that he possessed a total of 11,326 hours in turbine-powered helicopters, of which 220 hours were in the Bell 407 in the last 12 months from the date of the form.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

BELL HELICOPTER TEXTRON CANADA

Registration:

N802JR

Model/Series:

407 NO SERIES

Aircraft Category:

Helicopter

Amateur Built:

Operator:

 

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

Rotorcraft external load (133), On-demand air taxi (135), Agricultural aircraft

(137)

Operator Designator Code:

FTYA

 

 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

VMC

Condition of Light:

NightDark

Observation Facility, Elevation:

VSF,568 ft msl

Observation Time:

19:54 Local

Distance from Accident Site:

18 Nautical Miles

Temperature/Dew Point:

10°C /6°C

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Scattered / 5500 ft AGL

Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:

3 knots / , 180°

Lowest Ceiling:

Overcast / 9500 ft AGL

Visibility:

10 miles

Altimeter Setting:

29.6 inches Hg

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

Company VFR

Departure Point:

Croydon, NH (NONE)

Destination:

North Kingstown, RI (OQU)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 Fatal

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Passenger Injuries:

 

Aircraft Fire:

None

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

None

Total Injuries:

1 Fatal

Latitude, Longitude:

43.450516,-72.132165

Administrative Information

Additional Participating Persons:        Matthew Hall; FAA/FSDO; Portland, ME

Nora Vallee; Transportation Safety Board of Canada; Gatineau , OF Gary Howe; Bell; Forth Worth, TX

Jack Johnson; Rolls-Royce; Indianapolis, IN

Kurt West; JBI Helicopter Services; Pembroke, NH

Investigator In Charge (IIC): Gerhardt, Adam

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Created 174 days ago
by Admin

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