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AW139 Crash in Bahamas - 7 Killed

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AW139 Crash in Bahamas - 7 Killed

Old 8th Jul 2019, 06:12
  #121 (permalink)  

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Knowing Geoff as i did, my inclination lies towards a tech or mechanical failure, as mentioned above.

"unscheduled flight, where the pilots were not properly prepared and rested, when the conditions were challening, their responses were at not going to be optimum, and the stress of a medical evacuation."

No worse than many of us have done in the military. Maybe one occasion where the automation got in the way.
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Old 8th Jul 2019, 06:27
  #122 (permalink)  
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I still don't understand how you can arrive into the United States without having filed a flight plan prior to departure.

An eye witness account reported here:

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Old 8th Jul 2019, 08:23
  #123 (permalink)  
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The reason for the flight is rumored (at F45) to be that Cline's daughter had acute alcohol poisoning.
Lets not call this a Medevac flight any more than taking your child to A and E in your car turns it into an ambulance.

Rushed preparation with a distressed set of passengers, many young and perhaps not used to flying, and a 'patient' who may have been restless'. Lets hope it wasn't disorientation due to passenger disruption like G-CFLT

Last edited by homonculus; 8th Jul 2019 at 16:09.
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Old 8th Jul 2019, 09:09
  #124 (permalink)  
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I do find it hard to believe this was basically pilot error through disorientation. Surely for these two highly experienced presumably IR pilots, it should not have been a big deal? Ok it was probably pitch black soon after transition, but there is nothing resembling high ground to bump into and weather was presumably clear. But this would surely have been a fairly straightforward Cat A departure with ground references then transition to instruments soon after rotation at TDP and climbing away? It seems the aircraft got considerably further away from the take off point than G-LBAL - which was indeed pilot disorientation in fog at night - which might indicate there is a bit more to this.

I'm not familiar with the 139, but could the understandable rush to get airborne have meant that the instrumentation (especially gyros and AI function etc) was not fully on-line, resulting in unreliable instrument indications so early in flight, with obvious consequences?
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Old 8th Jul 2019, 10:29
  #125 (permalink)  
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I don't know 139 either, but fair chance it has AHRS and solid state [email protected] gyros and they only take a few moments to come on-line. And before doing any instrument departure you always do an instrument check to confirm proper operation. I doubt very much attitude reference instrumentation has anything to do with this. There was an eye witness at the departure point who saw the aircraft lights disappear into the sea, associated with a loud bang, moments after takeoff. They didn't get very far at all. Short of the tail rotor having fallen off, or some uncommanded hydraulic servo event, it has the hallmarks of a CFIT event. If all the passengers were still strapped into their seats, as reported by the divers, then the entry into the water was probably violent and incapacitating. Supported by the rotors and top deck cowls all missing from the underwater vision. They've probably gone in sideways or upside down.
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Old 8th Jul 2019, 11:50
  #126 (permalink)  
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Unfortunately, we don't know the background to the flight in terms of pilot duty time, rest periods etc.

Bear in mind that a SAR or HEMS pilot faced with a 2 am departure will normally have been on duty for a while but should be adequately rested and, more importantly, mentally prepared to go flying in the middle of the night.

As competent as the 2 pilots may have been, if they had not been expecting to fly they would certainly not have been mentally prepared and their activities before the 'call-out' are presently unknown.

A bunch of rich kids getting plastered during spring break is hardly unusual but alcohol poisoning (if that is what it was) smacks of poor parental supervision.

If panic regarding the girls condition prompted the pilots to be dragged out of bed unexpectedly and asked/ordered to fly then the sense of urgency may well have affected their judgement and risk appreciation.

I cannot stress enough how that 2 am job, even when you are prepared for it, is the time to stop, take a deep breath and do some proper planning and preparation before launching.

I hope, for the sake of the pilots reputation and those who have lost loved ones, that it turns out to be a major malfunction rather than CFIT.

Either way it was a tragic loss of young lives.
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Old 8th Jul 2019, 12:17
  #127 (permalink)  
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Do corporate pilots ever party with the boss? Or must they always be prepared to fly at any time when deployed with the boss? I can't imagine they were on reserve standby duty with any expectation of flying, especially when it was his birthday, and it seems the daughter and friends were partying/celebrating graduation.
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Old 8th Jul 2019, 12:51
  #128 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by casuall View Post
To those speculating as to the pilots abilities: I’ve spent time flying with Geoff and there is no one I would want by my side in an emergency situation more than him. I have seen him practice IFR night flying to stay proficient in anticipation of upcoming flights when he has felt he was out of practice. As for old school flying skills: he had (I believe) over 10,000 hours in Robinson’s (in addition to those in Augusta’s and numerous manufacturer training courses in other helicopters) and told me numerous stories of emergencies he avoided through old school flying skills. He was not easily flustered and he reacted immediately not just quickly. Based on what I have read in the news, and here: I don’t think we can judge him or Dave for agreeing to fly or Cline for asking them to (if that is what happened as the news seems to imply) in light of the circumstances—would you not do everything you can to help your child if you could? Would you not want to help get a sick person off an island with no hospital, particularly if you are a capable pilot in an exceedingly advanced aircraft? However, such circumstances can aggravate the smallest problem into a fatal one. I’m sure the investigation will reveal more telling information but I think that sympathy is the answer here, not just saying this could have been avoided had they followed the rules. That is obvious but it is also a risk that everyone assumed as soon as they stepped in that helicopter in that situation. My heart aches for all of them and for the families of the girls, Cline, Geoff, and Dave. May they all Rest In Peace.

I do agree with the posts about how automation is not the answer to accidents, that human awareness and appropriate response is—and I say the same about cars. However, people often want the best toy out there, assuming advanced automation is equivalent with safety and pilots for those operations are thus obliged to use those advanced machines, as the manufacturer advertises. Demand better training of pilots, demand more user friendly cockpits, demand simpler operations but do not put that blame on two pilots who are in fact proficient in their old school flying skills.

Wow 10000 hours of Robinson time, that’s a lot of Robinson flying time.

As for good or even very good pilots making catastrophic mistakes.... unfortunately It has happened before and it can continue to happen.
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Old 8th Jul 2019, 13:06
  #129 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
with a 2 am departure crew should be adequately rested and, more importantly, mentally prepared to go flying in the middle of the night.
Absolutely correct, but i know Geoff was making the majority of his cloud 9 business with the transfers to private islands (principally with one unknown client, its client friends and contractors). I can honestly assume that he had been flying the route to the Bahamas several hundreds of times, in a wide variety of conditions. in that context its easy to get more and more complacent with the risks and yield to more and more undo able missions.

Pardon my question: but how do your clear custom at 3am at F45?, would you even have to clear custom while flying VFR without a flight plan?

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Old 8th Jul 2019, 13:15
  #130 (permalink)  
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For the non-USA based people,what is "F45"?
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Old 8th Jul 2019, 13:24
  #131 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Kulwin Park View Post
For the non-USA based people,what is "F45"?
Kulwin Park It is North County Airport where he based out of. Presumably they would have flown directly to a hospital or an airport with customs (and called ahead to have ambulances standing by as they got close to the US) not to F45 which is like 30 minutes from a hospital.
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Old 8th Jul 2019, 13:24
  #132 (permalink)  
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Photo of the accident aircraft recovered from the ocean. None of the MR blades are attached.

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Old 8th Jul 2019, 13:28
  #133 (permalink)  
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The wreckage recovered. Details here:

Wreckage, black box of tragic helicopter crash recovered

Seven crash victims identified

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The wreckage of the 15-seater Agusta SPA helicopter that crashed in waters off Big Grand Cay, Abaco last Thursday, which killed all seven passengers onboard, was recovered from waters on Saturday and sent to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for further inspection and investigation.An official of the Air Accident and Investigation Department (AAID) also confirmed last night that the helicopter’s Blackbox was located and it will be shipped to a recorder’s lab in Washington, DC for analysis, and to determine if there is any information to indicate what may have led to last Thursday’s crash.“The wreckage was all recovered yesterday and we started mapping out the area on Friday, ensuring that we had the debris field identified,” Air Accident and Investigation Department Chief Investigator Delvin Major told Eyewitness News Online last night.“Yesterday was when they started actually bringing everything up, once the area was mapped to find where everything was located.

“Then there was the process of bringing every piece [of debris] up to the surface and it was placed on a barge.

“The barge left the site about 10p.m. last night [Saturday] and it should have arrived at 4:30 this afternoon [Sunday].”Major said he is expected to depart the capital today for Florida, where he will meet with a team of professionals to analyze each piece of the wreckage.“We will take the wreckage to a facility where we will lay it out and document items to verify that we got all of the aircraft from the ocean. Then we will have some other experts and some manufacturers of the aircraft’s engines come in. They are also meeting us there [in Florida], so each entity will be looking and documenting to make sure that their product is there,” Major explained.“Once it is all confirmed that everything is there, then the next step is to zero down on what could have possibly caused it [the crash] and when that happens, those components that may be suspect will be gathered and sent to another facility under more controlled circumstances where it can be further analyzed and tested.”In an earlier interview with Eyewitness News Online shortly after last week’s crash, Major confirmed that the helicopter was registered in the United States and its engines were manufactured in Canada. He said both U.S. authorities and Canadian authorities were notified of the crash and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had also committed to lending its assistance to the investigation. Local police on Saturday officially identified the seven persons who were killed in last week’s helicopter crash as:
  • Christopher Cline, 60, of New York
  • Kameron Nicole Cline, 22, of Washington, DC
  • Delaney Lee Wykyle, 20, of Washington, DC
  • Brittney Layne Searson, 21, of Palm Beach, Florida
  • Jillian Nicole Clarke, 22, of Los Angeles, California
  • Davis Jude, 57, of Kentucky
  • Geoffrey Lee Painter, 52, of Barnes Staple, United Kingdom (Pilot)
The Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) said it received a report that the helicopter, registration N32CC, took off from Big Grand Cay around 2a.m. last Thursday, July 4, en route to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.Authorities said the aircraft was reported missing to the Royal Bahamas Police Force at about 2:53p.m. last Thursday, after it did not arrive at the intended destination.“Police officers and residents of Grand Cay, later discovered the aircraft overturned in 16 ft. of water, off Grand Cay. The bodies of four females and three males were retrieved from the aircraft,” the RBPF said. “The Department of Civil Aviation, the Royal Bahamas Police and Defence Force are leading the investigation into the aircraft crash and will provide updates as needed.” Last night, Major, the AAID Chief Investigator said the exact cause of the crash will not be determined anytime soon.“We would not know that for some time until we establish, through further analysis, if something in the machine may have gone wrong, but in the meantime, we are also looking at the role the pilot played as far as his training, his familiarity with the area, his familiarity with flying at night,” Major said.“We are also looking at whether the weather played a role, so there is quite a bit of factors that goes into what may have caused it, so we can’t say what may have caused it until we’ve gotten all of those reports.“We have sent requests to the Met Office for the weather report and to Air Traffic Control for tracking information, so it is a lot of players that come together and once we have gotten all of that information, we would sit down and start analyzing what we were are able to gather from all the information.”Meanwhile, one the victims on the ill-fated helicopter was billionaire tycoon Christopher Cline, who died one day before his 61st birthday. Cline was estimated to be worth $1.8 billion at the time of his death, according to Forbes.According to the Sun-Sentinel, Cline began toiling in the mines of southern West Virginia at a young age, rising through the ranks of his father’s company quickly before forming his own energy development business, the Cline Group, which grew into one of the country’s top coal producers.He went on to amass a fortune and became a major Republican donor.Clarke, Searson and Wykle, other passengers on the ill-fated helicopter, were said to be friends of Cline’s daughter, Kameron Nicole Cline, who also perished in last week’s crash.Clark, Searson and Kameron Cline recently graduated from Louisiana State University. The trio were sorority sisters and were members of Phi Mu sorority. The girls were reportedly joined on the fourth of July trip by Wykle, who attended West Virginia University.Last night, Major said he had been in contact over the weekend with family members of the victims who are now in the Bahamas to identify and claim their loved ones.

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Old 8th Jul 2019, 14:15
  #134 (permalink)  
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F45 is the airport where Cloud9 Helicopters is based. This flight wouldn’t have gone there though. I believe it was stated that they were headed to Ft Lauderdale, where they could have cleared customs.

On a separate note...
... they drilled a perfectly good aircraft into the water two miles from departure.
Has it been established that this was a perfectly good aircraft?

Looking at the images, does the damage on the port side (door track and skin pushed inboard, gear sponson cover torn off) fit the CFIT story? Or does it suggest some sort of loss of control with a significant sideward velocity component at impact?
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Old 8th Jul 2019, 14:32
  #135 (permalink)  
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A similar situation to a recent accident in NZ perhaps which although didn’t end as tragically. Darkness, apparently someone is needing medical attention and over ocean flying. I haven’t gone through it all but was an IFR plan filed ? Night VFR is not permitted so I’m interested to know what procedures were in place. Did pressure come from above?
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Old 8th Jul 2019, 15:13
  #136 (permalink)  
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Initial thoughts are of a nose down left bank entry into the water at speed, hence the LH sponson is torn off. Which is not that easy to do as that is some VERY strong structure. MR blades all hit the water fast and disintegrated, along with some of the MR Head by the look of it. Which is also not easy to do as it is Titanium and also VERY strong.

What is concerning is that it looks like the floats have been removed and the blanking covers have been installed. Need a clearer photo of under the baggage bay door but it does look like the floats are not there.

But why the entry into the water. Hopefully we get an initial report soon with an initial FDR readout.
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Old 8th Jul 2019, 15:35
  #137 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by gulliBell View Post
Do corporate pilots ever party with the boss? Or must they always be prepared to fly at any time when deployed with the boss? I can't imagine they were on reserve standby duty with any expectation of flying, especially when it was his birthday, and it seems the daughter and friends were partying/celebrating graduation.
The most pertinent post so far. A medical emergency at 0200 on a remote island. The crew may have been on standby (they may have been in bed asleep for all we know at this point), but asleep or wide awake I doubt they were expecting to be asked to fly at this hour. What a difficult position for a pilot to be in.
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Old 8th Jul 2019, 15:52
  #138 (permalink)  
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Does the fact that the pics show the main rotor head and blades completely gone, and the tail completely gone, generate any other thoughts?
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Old 8th Jul 2019, 16:56
  #139 (permalink)  
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Analysis of the debris field will determine if all of the major components were present....all main rotor blades, tail rotor blades, gear boxes, drive shafts, and thus rule out loss of those in-flight.

Engine and gearbox examinations will determine if they were operating at the time of impact with the water.

Hopefully, the CVR/FDR if installed and still functional will generate other information that will point to a cause.

One thing is for sure....that aircraft hit the water with a great deal of force and very suddenly.
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Old 8th Jul 2019, 17:07
  #140 (permalink)  
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Looks like the investigation has now been turned over to the NTSB from this tweet.

The NTSB is investigating the crash of an Augusta AW-139 that crashed in Grand Cay, Bahamas, on 7/4/19. Investigation has been delegated to the NTSB by the Bahamas.
9:56 AM - 8 Jul 2019 [The timestamp appears to be Pacific Daylight Time - Airbubba]

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