LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its preliminary findings in the crash of a medical helicopter in Clay County that killed three Air Evac crewmembers on June 6.
Below is the report released by the agency:
“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. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On June 6, 2013, about 2315 eastern daylight time, a Bell 206 L-1, N114AE, was destroyed when it impacted an elementary school parking lot while on approach for landing near Manchester, Kentucky. The airline transport pilot and two medical personnel were fatally injured. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Air-Evac EMS Inc., as Evac 109, and operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a repositioning flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a company visual flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight originated from the Saint Joseph-London Heliport (5KY9), London, Kentucky about 2259.
The helicopter was on approach to the operator’s private helipad when the accident occurred. According to flight tracking software provided by the operator, the helicopter approached the base from the west, turned southeast, flew overhead the intended landing site about 1 mile, turned north, then west, then back southeast prior to the end of the recorded data. Recordings provided by the operator’s Operational Control Center (OCC), located in O’Fallon, Missouri, revealed that the pilot reported arriving at the base at 2312:24. That transmission was acknowledged by the OCC at 2312:30. At 2315:02, an unidentified male voice was recorded. No other transmissions from the accident flight were captured.
Several eyewitnesses reported that the weather was clear, and stated that the helicopter was “spinning” prior to impact. One of those witnesses reported seeing the helicopter in an approximate 40-degree nose-up attitude, and shortly after no engine sound was heard. Other witnesses, who reported “dense fog” in the area at the time of the accident, stated that they only saw the helicopter just before the impact and subsequent explosion.
The helicopter came to rest inverted on a 268 degree heading, about 750 feet from the intended landing area. According to security camera recordings the helicopter erupted into a fireball immediately on impact.
The helicopter and engine were retained for further examination.”