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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 the feasibility of retrofitting helicopters manufactured before 1996 with windshields that meet the current bird-strike requirements.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Action
Morgan City, LA, United States
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Safety Recommendation History
We note that the FAA has determined it to be neither justifiable nor economically feasible to retrofit or equip helicopters manufactured before 1996, or new helicopters built under the old certification requirements, with windshields that meet the current bird-strike requirements. This evaluation satisfies Safety Recommendations A-10-139 and -140, which are classified CLOSED—ACCEPTABLE ACTION.
-From Michael P. Huerta, Acting Administrator: A rule change to 14 CFR § 21.10 1 would be required prior to requiring manufacturers to equip helicopters built under the old certification requirements with windshields that meet the current bird-strike requirements. Based on a review of service data, we believe it is neither justifiable nor economically feasible to retrofit or equip helicopters manufactured before 1996 or new helicopters built under the old certification requirements with windshields that meet the current bird-strike requirements. In addition, it may not be possible to design windshields meeting these requirements for all helicopters. I believe that the FAA has effectively addressed safety recommendations A-10-139 and -140, and I consider our actions complete.
The FAA indicated that it is evaluating the feasibility of retrofitting helicopters manufactured before 1996 with windshields that meet the current bird-strike requirements. Pending our receipt and review of this evaluation, Safety Recommendation A-10-139 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
CC# 201100057: - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: We are currently evaluating the feasibility of retrofitting helicopters manufactured before 1996 with windshields that meet the current bird-strike requirements of § 29.631.
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