National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
The following is an update on the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation of the Shasta- Trinity Forest helicopter crash near Weaverville, California on August 5, 2008, which killed 9 of the 13 persons aboard.
The helicopter was a Sikorsky S-61N, registration number N612AZ, manufactured in 1964.
The NTSB team has departed the Redding area. A ten-member group, including investigators from the NTSB, the U.S. Forest Service, Sikorsky and General Electric, traveled to Portland, Oregon this week to examine the engines, which were flown there on Monday. That examination is on-going.
The helicopter had taken on fuel immediately before the sortie that included the accident flight. Fuel samples from the truck that serviced the aircraft have been obtained and will be tested.
Interviews with firefighters who witnessed the accident have concluded. They consistently reported that the helicopter lifted off slower than they would have expected before striking trees and crashing more than 100 yards from the lift off point.
The helicopter's cockpit voice recorder arrived at NTSB headquarters Saturday morning, August 9. Upon examination, it was discovered that the solid state chips had been damaged by heat, and it was determined that the best way to try to extract information from the chips without further damaging them would be to use the facilities of the United Kingdom-based manufacturer, Penny and Giles. Because officials of that company were unavailable to assist investigators this week, the recorder will be taken to England by an NTSB investigator next week.
The aircraft's maintenance records and records of the pilot's work history continue to be examined. The captain had about 20,000 hours of total flight time and the first officer had 3,000 hours of civilian flight time.
NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.