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On January 4, 2009, about 1409 central standard time, a dual-engine Sikorsky S-76C++ helicopter, N748P, registered to and operated by PHI, Inc., departed controlled flight and crashed into marshy terrain about 7 minutes after takeoff. Both pilots and six passengers on board were fatally injured, and one passenger was seriously injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter departed Lake Palourde Base Heliport in Amelia, Louisiana, en route to the South Timbalier oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. No flight plan was filed with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)1 for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135 air taxi flight, nor was one required.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Evaluate other helicopter models with engine control quadrant designs similar to the S-76C++ model helicopter and require modification, as necessary, to ensure that any external force on the canopy or windshields does not cause unintended movement of the engine power control levers.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Action
Morgan City, LA, United States
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Safety Recommendation History
The FAA previously reported that it had evaluated multiple helicopter models with overhead throttle quadrants and had identified various mechanisms in place to prevent unintended movement of the engine power control levers from an external force. Because this action satisfies Safety Recommendation A-10-137, the recommendation is classified CLOSED—ACCEPTABLE ACTION.
-From Tony Fazio, Director, Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention: The Board asks that we provide a list of the helicopters we evaluated and the standards we used to determine the effectiveness of the throttle mechanisms. We believe this request goes beyond the scope of the recommendation. We reiterate the conclusion from our January 31, 2011 letter that other evaluated helicopter models with overhead engine control levers and fuel shutoff levers incorporate various mechanisms to prevent unintended movement of those controls due to an external force.
The NTSB notes that the FAA has evaluated multiple helicopter models with overhead throttle quadrants and has identified various mechanisms in place to prevent unintended movement of the engine power control levers from an external force. However, we request additional details regarding (1) the helicopter models that were evaluated and (2) the standards used to determine the effectiveness of these mechanisms. Pending our review of this additional information, Safety Recommendation A-10-137 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
CC# 201100057: - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: The FAA has evaluated multiple helicopter models with overhead throttle quadrants. Our conclusion is that other helicopter models with overhead engine control levers and fuel shutoff levers incorporate various mechanisms to prevent unintended movement of those controls due to an external force. The various mechanisms include physical locking mechanisms, lever attachments to an electric motor, or inherent large breakout friction. I believe we have satisfactorily responded to this safety recommendation, and I consider our actions complete.
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