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Fatal firefighting UH-60 training accident in Florida

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Fatal firefighting UH-60 training accident in Florida

Old 26th May 2021, 10:09
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Fatal firefighting UH-60 training accident in Florida

https://abcnews.go.com/US/survivors-...ry?id=77906310

One person is confirmed dead and no survivors have been found after a firefighting helicopter crashed into a Florida marsh on Tuesday, authorities said.

The crash occurred around 4 p.m. near Leesburg Airport in central Florida during a training exercise, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Four people were on board the Sikorsky UH-60 firefighting helicopter, the agency said.

There is one confirmed death at this time, the Leesburg Fire Department, which responded to the scene, said in a statement around 9 p.m. Tuesday.

"The crash appears to be a total loss," the department said. "No survivors have been located."

A fire at the scene has been largely brought under control, and the U.S. Forest Service was working to prevent any vegetation fires, the Leesburg Fire Department said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation of the crash.

ABC News' Mina Kaji contributed to this report.
Sad to see.

Last edited by Senior Pilot; 26th May 2021 at 10:11. Reason: Add quote: this helps Rotorheads know what you're posting about!
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Old 26th May 2021, 12:34
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Brainerd Helicopters, Inc. is based at Leesburg International Airport (Leesburg, Florida, U.S.A.) and were the developers of the "Firehawk", which was a Blackhawk modified for fire fighting. I'm afraid it was one of theirs.

R.I.P.

Regards,
Grog
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Old 26th May 2021, 14:47
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https://www.asias.faa.gov/apex/f?p=1...60+HELICOPTERS

IDENTIFICATION Date: 25-MAY-21 Time: 22:00:00Z
Regis#: N9FH Aircraft
Make: BHI H60 HELICOPTERS
Aircraft Model: UH-60 Event Type:
ACCIDENT Highest Injury: FATAL Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: DESTROYED LOCATION City: LEESBURG State: FLORIDA Country: UNITED STATES DESCRIPTION
Description: AIRCRAFT CONDUCTING FIRE WATER DROP EXERCISES, LOST CONTROL OF THE BUCKET CUASING THE ROTOR SECTION TO SEPARATE, CRASHED IN A WOODED AREA AND CAUGHT ON FIRE, LEESBURG, FL.
INJURY DATA Total Fatal: 4
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Old 26th May 2021, 19:03
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"LOST CONTROL OF THE BUCKET CUASING THE ROTOR SECTION TO SEPARATE" can someonc translate that to me? That doesn't make a lot of sense. Or is it "Lost control of the bucket which then got tangled up in the tail rotor and caused the aircraft to crash"?


How could an out of control bucket cause main rotor separation from the fuselage?

What an awful accident anyway.

Last edited by muermel; 26th May 2021 at 19:58.
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Old 26th May 2021, 19:24
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Originally Posted by muermel View Post
"LOST CONTROL OF THE BUCKET CUASING THE ROTOR SECTION TO SEPARATE" can someonc translate that to me? That doesn't make a lot of sense. Or is it "Lost control of the buckt which then got tangled up in the tail rotor and cause the aircraft to crash"?
How could an out of control bucket cause main rotor separation from the fuselage?
What an awful accident anyway.
This is merely notification to a database and was probably inputted by the duty office secreatary who knows nothing about helicopters. I would trust no information in the notification other than location---they had not even confirmed the other three deaths earlier, except to say they were on board.
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Old 26th May 2021, 21:12
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Originally Posted by muermel View Post
"LOST CONTROL OF THE BUCKET CUASING THE ROTOR SECTION TO SEPARATE" can someonc translate that to me? That doesn't make a lot of sense. Or is it "Lost control of the bucket which then got tangled up in the tail rotor and caused the aircraft to crash"?

How could an out of control bucket cause main rotor separation from the fuselage?
Seems to suggest the possibility of (an empty) sling load becoming aerodynamic and flying into rotor system. Has happened on this platform before.
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Old 26th May 2021, 23:20
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Originally Posted by JimEli View Post
Seems to suggest the possibility of (an empty) sling load becoming aerodynamic and flying into rotor system. Has happened on this platform before.
Yes, it has happened before. Here's a link to a couple of crashes due to bambi bucket strike:

Helicopter Tail Rotor Strike from Firefighting Bucket - Aerossurance

Early witness reports indicated that the tail boom or tail rotor separated from the helicopter and landed next to a runway. There has yet been no definite confirmation of this. It's all speculation at this point.

Regards,
Grog
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Old 27th May 2021, 18:08
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Word has it that they were testing new bucket release system. No idea what happened though.
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Old 28th May 2021, 02:48
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Sad news.

Made me think of the Squirrel with the tangled bucket lines from Sep 2020:

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Old 1st Jun 2021, 04:22
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Saw this video on another forum... for such benign maneuvers that snorkel is absolutely out of control.

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Old 1st Jun 2021, 15:45
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Originally Posted by TwinHueyMan View Post
Saw this video on another forum... for such benign maneuvers that snorkel is absolutely out of control.
Not rumored on here yet, but word on the street is this is exactly what they were testing, not a new bucket but a new tank/snorkel design and the snorkel impacted the MR at some point. One can draw your own conclusions having now seen the above video.

RIP guys---many this side of the pond knew one of the guys pretty well.
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Old 1st Jun 2021, 22:52
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Originally Posted by Gordy View Post
Not rumored on here yet, but word on the street is this is exactly what they were testing, not a new bucket but a new tank/snorkel design and the snorkel impacted the MR at some point. One can draw your own conclusions having now seen the above video.

RIP guys---many this side of the pond knew one of the guys pretty well.
Truly sad.
The video makes it evident that the snorkel was flapping everywhere, even when the aircraft was not close to the ground.
Retaining lines for something like that would be a bear to fit on a helicopter.
Respect for those who somehow manage to tame the beast, remembering that some died finding out how.
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Old 2nd Jun 2021, 07:33
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Originally Posted by etudiant View Post
Truly sad.
The video makes it evident that the snorkel was flapping everywhere, even when the aircraft was not close to the ground.
Retaining lines for something like that would be a bear to fit on a helicopter.
Respect for those who somehow manage to tame the beast, remembering that some died finding out how.
If your snorkel isnít flying right, 99.99% of the time it usually just needs rotating a little bit to have the electrical or hydraulic hose sitting in a better aerodynamic region.

Most couplings end up being marked for the best position so it flys correctly.

That being said the above is a no brainer and Iím sure with all Firehawkís experience that it was probably something a little more complex?
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Old 3rd Jun 2021, 06:32
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If there were 4 POB as the opening thread states, 2 of them would have to be in the cabin and surely responsible for monitoring the behaviour of the new equipment since this was an evaluation flight?

How could they let the snorkel fly so wildly without saying something and getting the pilot to slow down? That is if they were watching it.
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Old 3rd Jun 2021, 11:53
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They were slowing down....approaching a hover as seen in the video.

A unique aspect of the Blackhawk is the low profile of the design.

Depending upon where the Snorkel wound up....Main Rotor system or the Tail Rotor System....the crash sequence will be much different.

In time...the investigation should be able to figure that out.

It could be the Snorkel "flew" and went up into the Main Rotor or it swung back into the Tail Rotor.

The length of the Snorkel will be a clue to that if it is too short to reach the Tail Rotor.

The Black Hawk Rotor Blades are pretty tough hombres....ask John Dixson to tell the story of the Prototype that hit a tree during initial fly off competition with the Boeing UTTAS during competition for the Army Contract.

https://www.sikorskyarchives.com/pdf...Jan%202008.pdf
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Old 3rd Jun 2021, 14:49
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A friend sent a picture of the snorkel setup-it mounts thru the left cabin opening. Looked substantial. The video provoked some thoughts about qualifying a new design. One obvious first subject to address is that given the fact that one would want to be able to refill the tank in windy conditions, doing incrementally increased paced forward flight with a pace truck/monitor would establish an envelope within which the snorkel could be flown. Now that would be level flight and would assume one extended the snorkel after coming to a hover. If it was needed to deploy the snorkel in descending flight conditions, the aerodynamic issues get more complicated and harder to predict. I recall when we added external aux tanks to the 53 there was a near real problem while doing the tank jettison tests when the next increment of speed/rate of descent resulted in the tanks going up instead of down.
In the case of this S-70 accident, it would be useful to know what the flight envelope test plan for the snorkel entailed and what operating envelope existed.
Sas-have to run to our unofficial/unlicensed retiree lunch where one finds out how things really got done at SA! Iíll try and find the Ft Campbell pic when I return.
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Old 3rd Jun 2021, 15:53
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Brother Dixson,

You may go easy on the remembrance medication you normally partake at that meeting of such an august group.....as in the Link I posted there is a mention of you doing the first Test Flight and a photo of the Sikorsky Multi-Bladed Weed Whacker post landing but prior to it being fired back up and flown home.
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Old 3rd Jun 2021, 20:25
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I cannot find a small number of pics from that landing site at Ft Campbell, so the only picture I have at the moment of the downed ship, is the same one that is in the SA Archives link that you posted. I accompanied several others that arrived there the next morning ( the incident happened at 1130PM and we left CT at 0530. Anyway, we replaced the main and tail blades, borescoped the main box and were ready to ground run and fly it out
pretty quickly. Pacing item became getting the Army kids with chain saws to clear the hole in the woods that the ship had created. The ship was flown out by CWO Dick Seefeldt ( Maintenance Officer assigned to the Army team for the SA aircraft and one of the 10 Ft Campbell operational evaluation pilots. Went back into the competition immediately and that one eventually became the maintenance trainer ship at Ft Rucker.

Back to the Firehawk accident,SAS: You wrote:
It could be the Snorkel "flew" and went up into the Main Rotor or it swung back into the Tail Rotor.
The length of the Snorkel will be a clue to that if it is too short to reach the Tail Rotor.”
You know, looking at the length of the snorkel in the video, your second sentence above might suggest that the very hard end of the snorlel swung up into the main rotor, which batted it back to the TR. The fitting on the end of the snorkel, with the velocity from the MR impact, added to the rotational velocity of the TR, could be very damaging indeed.
Something else worth looking into. i may have mentioned this before in other threads: I’ve no idea if this thought is still accurate to the newer models, but the original AFCS computer incorporated a history module, as after all, it had all the control position, attitude, etc sensors feeding it. The engineer who headed up that effort made sure that module went into the ship, even though the Army said they didn’t need it. Similarly, the T-700’s also had some history data built in. Neither of these functions were installed in separate crashworthy hardware, though.

Another possibility is that the swinging snorkel end hit one of the pushrods in the center. Now the pitch horns on this head are leading edge horns, meaning that a hypothetical hit by the business end of the snorkel in the center of a pushrod might result in a bent rod, which in turn would take that blade low. If the bend was enough, could that blade fly low enough to cut the tail? At first blush, seems improbable: those pushrods are built to take a 51cal bullet, etc, but just saying…….

Last edited by JohnDixson; 4th Jun 2021 at 02:21.
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Old 11th Jun 2021, 12:31
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Prelim is out.
https://data.ntsb.gov/carol-repgen/a...ort/103146/pdf
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Old 11th Jun 2021, 13:23
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For the life of me, given eye witness reports of the snorkel swinging violently, I find it near impossible to believe the crew were not aware of this. And so it's very difficult to comprehend why they didn't take corrective action and slow down. It just doesn't make any sense.
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