Transportation Safety Board issued an investigative update
Friday for its ongoing investigation of the fatal, Jan. 26, 2020, helicopter
crash near Calabasas, California.
The Sikorsky S-76B helicopter collided with hilly terrain and was destroyed by impact forces and
fire. The pilot and eight passengers were fatally injured. The helicopter
operated by Island Express Helicopters Inc., was on an on-demand passenger
visual flight rules flight from John Wayne-Orange County Airport, in Santa Ana,
California, to Camarillo Airport, in Camarillo, California.
have already developed a substantial amount of evidence about the circumstances
of this tragic crash," said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. "And we
are confident that we will be able to determine its cause as well as any
factors that contributed to it so we can make safety recommendations to prevent
accidents like this from occurring again.”
NTSB still image is from a drone video duplicating the flightpath of N72EX at
position/altitude of last ADS-B target. NTSB image)
to the investigative update, all significant components of the helicopter were located
within the wreckage area. Examination of the main and tail rotor assemblies
found damage consistent with powered rotation at the time of impact. The
initial point of impact consisted of highly fragmented cabin and cockpit
main wreckage was about 127 feet from the impact and consisted of the empennage/tailboom,
both engines, avionics boxes, and portions of the cockpit instrument panel. The
entire fuselage/cabin and both engines were subjected to a postcrash fire. The
cockpit experienced extreme fragmentation. The instrument panel was destroyed,
and most instruments were displaced from their panel mounts. Flight controls
were fragmented and fire damaged.
helicopter was not equipped with a flight data recorder or cockpit voice
recorder nor was it required to be for the accident flight. The
NTSB has been issuing recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration to
require recorders on helicopters since 1999. Currently, safety recommendations A-13-12
are the only open recommendations that address recorders in helicopters.
helicopter operator, Island Express Helicopters, held an FAA Part 135 operating
certificate ISHA094F, for on-demand VFR-only operations, since 1998 and
conducted offshore oil industry support flights and charter flights. The
company’s operations specifications document listed six helicopters including
the accident aircraft: 1 SK-76A, 2 SK-76B, 2 AS-350-B2 and 1 AS-350-BA.
The investigative update includes a summary of
the ATC and radar data, weather information as well as a summary of video and
photos provided by witnesses depicting the weather at the time of the accident.
The information in the update is preliminary and
subject to change as the NTSB’s investigation progresses. Analysis of the
accident facts, along with conclusions and a determination of probable cause,
will come at a later date when the final report on the investigation is
completed. As such, no conclusions about how the incident happened should be
drawn from the information contained within the investigative update.
investigative update is available at https://go.usa.gov/xd84a
information about this investigation is available on the accident webpage: https://go.usa.gov/xd8ah.
To report an incident/accident or if you are a public safety agency, please call 1-844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290 to speak to a Watch Officer at the NTSB Response Operations Center (ROC) in Washington, DC (24/7).