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Eurocopter crash Grand Canyon Feb 2018

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Eurocopter crash Grand Canyon Feb 2018

Old 25th Aug 2018, 23:06
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Eurocopter crash Grand Canyon Feb 2018

I am not a helicopter pilot, just a retired ATCO from LACC. Sadly the son of a good friend of mine died in the crash at the Grand Canyon in February. At the moment the investigation is centred around the requirement for self sealing fuel systems in helicopters. In this case 6 out of the 7 occupants died from burns and the pilot who survived was also badly burned. They had no other injuries so if the helicopter had not caught fire they would all have walked away from it.
Apparently the requirement is that any helicopter designed after 1994 does not have to have a fuel sealing system even if it was built much later. I am trying to find out if this is also the case in Europe. Does EASA or the CAA have the same requirement or are their requirements more stringent?
Apparently over 50 people have perished in this way over the last 10 years in the US. They all had no other injuries!
I do feel that this is an issue that needs addressing
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Old 26th Aug 2018, 00:14
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I do feel that this is an issue that needs addressing.
I fully agree.

Due to bureaucracy that cripples any notion of achieving that and sheer expense that also plays a large role in it happening....that being retro-fitting Crashworthty Fuel systems....do not hold out much hope to see that come to fruition.
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Old 26th Aug 2018, 00:41
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Originally Posted by 63000 Triple Zilch View Post
Apparently the requirement is that any helicopter designed after 1994 does not have to have a fuel sealing system even if it was built much later.
I do feel that this is an issue that needs addressing
It is being looked at. I am part of a safety working group made up of 20 people from industry, FAA, NTSB, & HAI that met in Washington DC back in June. This is one topic that was discussed during the 3 days of meetings.

Public perception drives retrofitting right now. I believe the after market manufacturer of the crash resistant fuel cells is struggling to keep up with the demand.
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Old 26th Aug 2018, 01:09
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https://robertsonfuelsystems.com/

https://nypost.com/2018/02/27/helico...de-fuel-tanks/

there's lots out there. google is your friend
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Old 26th Aug 2018, 08:50
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What is the cost of the retrofit to an AS350?
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Old 26th Aug 2018, 13:57
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This is from a Vertical magazine story, and I think the elusiveness of the cost is still out there until you place an order.

"For this story, Airbus and Vector declined to provide cost estimates for their CRFS solutions, noting that detailed pricing information is available upon customer request. However, other sources estimated the cost of these systems at around $90,000. Confronted with this sticker shock (and, for the H125 system, a weight penalty of 41 pounds/18.5 kilograms), many helicopter operators have adopted the philosophy, “Just don’t crash.”"
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Old 26th Aug 2018, 15:04
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Originally Posted by GrayHorizonsHeli View Post
many helicopter operators have adopted the philosophy, “Just don’t crash.”"
We are attempting to change attitudes.....
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Old 26th Aug 2018, 15:29
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Originally Posted by Gordy View Post
We are attempting to change attitudes.....
The potential liability for being aware but deciding to save costs is huge.
$90k wouldn't even cover the initial legal fees.
Insurer's may even start bumping up premiums for operators that have not fitted the mod.
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Old 26th Aug 2018, 16:45
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Given reasonable volume, it’s hard to believe such systems need to cost $90k, if that’s correct for an AS350/H125. Surely there is something that can be a lot safer than the ? say $9k plastic tank than having to spend $90k. Are the standards too demanding? I wonder how much of the price is for product liability insurance cover? I guess if a fire occurs with a “crash resistant” fuel cell a big claim is likely to follow.
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Old 26th Aug 2018, 17:24
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I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and reply to this thread. One aspect still amazes me. Apparently after a heavy landing which ruptures the fuel tank you have 1.8 seconds to evacuate the helicopter before a fuel induced fire will start. As this is a known issue, whether or not it has been deemed OK by NTSB FAA CAA EASA and others, surely by the passenger door there should be a warning displayed. On virtually every other item purchased in the US, even a paddling pool, lists warnings. My chainsaw has so many warnings it is unreal. Surely a warning that in the event of a heavy landing you have less than 2 seconds to evacuate before flames engulf the cabin,would heighten passenger awareness and ensure all operators upgrade or lose all their pax!! Why does this not apply to aviation. I am not being flippant but most passengers are getting on these helicopters unaware of the KNOWN danger.
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Old 26th Aug 2018, 20:39
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Anybody knows if the military version of the 350, known as the Fennec in some air forces, is equipped with crash resistant fuel tanks, or if its the same type that is fitted to the civi version?

A simple solution to increase crew/pax survivability without the 90K modification, could be to ensure everybody on board is wearing a Nomex type, fire resistant flight suit. In my air force we had an accident with a small piston trainer that beside the pilot also carried a civilian photographer. Since the photographer was not wearing a flight suit he was burned badly when the AVGAS ignited during the crash. One of the recommendations in the accident report, stated that everyone onboard should wear a fire resistant flight suit. The recommendation was followed and written in the rules and regs.
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Old 26th Aug 2018, 22:03
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^ I opened that can of worms once.
I got spanked by the PPRuNe crew.
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Old 27th Aug 2018, 00:00
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Originally Posted by 63000 Triple Zilch View Post
..Surely a warning that in the event of a heavy landing you have less than 2 seconds to evacuate before flames engulf the cabin,would heighten passenger awareness and ensure all operators upgrade or lose all their pax!! Why does this not apply to aviation.
There is no automatic connexion between a heavy landing and the aircraft being engulfed in flames within 2 seconds. I would say, in the vast majority of heavy landing the aircraft doesn't catch fire at all.
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Old 27th Aug 2018, 06:43
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Originally Posted by F-16GUY View Post
A simple solution to increase crew/pax survivability
Buy a Bell?
View isn't as good but given a choice between that, having to wear nomex or being burned to death.
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Old 27th Aug 2018, 14:00
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Thats a tough budget decision, buy a bunch of improved tanks or buy a new fleet.....hmmm....I'd have to consult my magic 8 ball

http://www.ask8ball.net/
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Old 27th Aug 2018, 16:21
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Angry

Originally Posted by gulliBell View Post
There is no automatic connexion between a heavy landing and the aircraft being engulfed in flames within 2 seconds. I would say, in the vast majority of heavy landing the aircraft doesn't catch fire at all.
Except for one brand that shall not be named here OwCrap
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Old 27th Aug 2018, 16:45
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Originally Posted by Bell_ringer View Post


Buy a Bell?
View isn't as good but given a choice between that, having to wear nomex or being burned to death.
Have to agree.. I would love to sit down and perform a statistical analysis, but I wouldn't have the time. Fact is on these particular aircraft, if the gearbox coming through the roof doesn't get you.. then the ensuing fire will. I haven't seen to many that crash not go up in flames... unless of course they ran out of fuel.

How some OEMs are allowed get away with it is beyond me. I like to see a video of the 350 drop test during certification.
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Old 27th Aug 2018, 17:35
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Originally Posted by Bell_ringer View Post


Buy a Bell?
View isn't as good but given a choice between that, having to wear nomex or being burned to death.
Nomex will protect you regardless of the make and model you fly, and if the circumstances are right, I will bet that a Bell will burn just fine....

On another note, just got word from a former colleague who used to operate the Fennec. According to him it is fitted with self-sealing crash resistant fuel cells from the factory.

EDIT: The self sealing tanks are apparently not standard but an add on option on the ones we operate.

Last edited by F-16GUY; 27th Aug 2018 at 17:45.
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Old 27th Aug 2018, 18:36
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Originally Posted by gulliBell View Post
There is no automatic connexion between a heavy landing and the aircraft being engulfed in flames within 2 seconds. I would say, in the vast majority of heavy landing the aircraft doesn't catch fire at all.
And the data/reports, both private and public, reflect that. Hence no AD. The facts speak whether you agree or disagree with them. However, retrofitting with crash-resistant tanks will cure only a part of the issue. The US military learned decades ago that pressure-type fuel systems are a major cause of post accident fires. That is the reason most military and transport cat rotorcraft have suction type fuel delivery systems. While its tragic to read through the Astar reports, when you lay out all these types of incidents from the past 15 years you might be surprised at the causes, results, and number. Especially when compared to the GA avgas side.
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Old 27th Aug 2018, 20:06
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Nomex is fine if your exposure is very limited in duration and severity.

Preventing the fire is the best solution by far.
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