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Baton Rouge PD R-44 fatal 26th March 2023

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Baton Rouge PD R-44 fatal 26th March 2023

Old 28th Mar 2023, 14:55
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A half mile from a lighted area of mixed businesses and dwellings.....over flat. ground.....and a lit tower (supposedly anyway) with a major highway running through the scene.....perhaps it was something just as simple as an engine failure that got them.

All this about how the UK does it has nothing to do with the Baton Rouge operation or the accident in question.

Budget is everything.....in Police work as well as in every Civilian operation....and safety suffers as a result EVERY time no matter the Operator.

Other factors are far more critical when analyzing the accident.....beginning with the Weather.....what were the climatic conditions at the time?

Followed by all those other questions of equipment, training, SOP's currency, instrument proficiency if IIMC was a factor.

Personally, the only way I would be involved in a Robbie Crash would be if one landed on my head by pure serendipity.....or just sad fate.

Jet Rangers are a step up.....MD-500's....a better step up.....and then we get to twins, and all the Gucci Kit.

For night flying....having flown with and without NVG's.....the only way in my thinking is with NVG's.



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Old 28th Mar 2023, 15:23
  #22 (permalink)  

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Now add in an unstabilised helicopter and a task to follow a stolen car away from those bright lights - the excitement of the chase, the difficulty of the changing visual cues as you manoeuvre and the handling qualities of the aircraft - this is not big and clever flying, this is asking for a mishap.
Yes, we were doing it in the U.K. in the nineties and early 2000s, too. Albeit in a twin engined machine, but without stabilisation, instrument ratings or NVG.

I’m glad I’m out of that scenario, especially tasks in the hills.

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Old 28th Mar 2023, 16:09
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A half mile from a lighted area of mixed businesses and dwellings.....over flat. ground.....and a lit tower (supposedly anyway) with a major highway running through the scene.....perhaps it was something just as simple as an engine failure that got them
At 0230 how much of that lighting would be on and how many cars on the highway?

All this about how the UK does it has nothing to do with the Baton Rouge operation or the accident in question.
It's not about how things are done in UK, it's about how two guys lost their lives.

It may have been an engine failure (better placed in a twin then) or some other malfunction but it may well have been spatial disorientation through trying to do too much without the right equipment.

We don't seem to know if they were NVD equipped and a FLIR screen is nowhere near the same thing.

Did their R44 have a rad alt fitted and if so did it have audio and visual alerts and an SOP for bug setting?

I am with Sasless in that I wouldn't go night flying without NVD but did some pretty scary stuff for several years before converting in the 90s.

If your budget doesn't run to having the right equipment for the task, then don't accept the task - it's not rocket science.

If you want to do police ops at night without NVD then at least give the pilots a fighting chance and have a basic SAS and stick trim system.
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Old 28th Mar 2023, 16:35
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An R44 in the US is just a basic ship, no AI unless instrument certified. Maybe that one was, maybe not. If youre saving here, maybe you are also saving there.

And if manouevering lowish close to a big settlement, and the references are changing from lit horizon to dark depending on track, and moving a goofy stick that needs carefully calibrated inputs, I think some holes in a cheese could line up very quickly. There is really not much room for input error and recovery.
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Old 28th Mar 2023, 17:18
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Originally Posted by Torquetalk
An R44 in the US is just a basic ship, no AI unless instrument certified. Maybe that one was, maybe not. If youre saving here, maybe you are also saving there.

And if manouevering lowish close to a big settlement, and the references are changing from lit horizon to dark depending on track, and moving a goofy stick that needs carefully calibrated inputs, I think some holes in a cheese could line up very quickly. There is really not much room for input error and recovery.
Never seen one without an AI. You’d need to be daf to order one without it and I find it hard to believe any PD would. But, then, this isn’t the US and there’s just a different kind of thinking that goes on over that side of the pond.
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Old 29th Mar 2023, 01:59
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How much experience would the typical USA police helo person have, I gather they are police officers who have been taught to fly, is that correct?
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Old 29th Mar 2023, 03:37
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Megan,

It varies widely....from one extreme to the the other....Police Officers who learn to fly helicopters to Helicopter Pilots who either do time as a uniform officer or direct entry as a pilot.

Aircraft vary from R-44's to sophisticated twins

Standards vary from one extreme to the other as well and budgets vary as well.

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Old 29th Mar 2023, 04:16
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Thanks SAS.
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Old 29th Mar 2023, 09:13
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Presumably the FAA oversees and regulates what happens in Law Enforcement aviation?
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Old 29th Mar 2023, 09:44
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Originally Posted by megan
How much experience would the typical USA police helo person have, I gather they are police officers who have been taught to fly, is that correct?
From the Baton Rouge PD press release, it seems both guys were 16 and 17 year veterans of the BRPD respectively and so were presumably police officers first and pilots second although the age of the senior officer, 47 (the junior was 38), means he could have been a pilot first and a police officer afterwards.
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Old 29th Mar 2023, 10:33
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I don't have any rotary-wing qualifications, but I am a recently retired professional pilot, with 40-plus years in military (including flying instruction) and civilian aviation (light twin charter and airline transport). However, I did spend several years operating closely with, and taking rides with, military rotary operators, so I feel I have some understanding of the operating environment. I consider myself an 'interested observer' on this thread, and hope you will accept my observations as such.

As soon as I saw the Google Maps satellite, and aeronautical chart, images posted by Gordy (post #7 ), I was struck by the proximity of the last part of the R44 route to the mast/tower.

I assume the route is extracted from one of the popular flight following websites, so I accept that altitude accuracy, particularly at low level like this, can be called into question. The granularity of the R44's route is also limited, but that is a factor of the time interval between positions recorded. Nevertheless, GPS postion recording is pretty good these days, so I think it is fair to treat the limited individual positions recorded as likely to be accurate.

The penultimate recorded position appears alarmingly close to the mast. The apparent crash site is then about 900 feet/275 metres from the mast position. The mast itself is promulgated as being 294 feet tall (311 feet amsl).

The illustrated track of the R44 follows the Ronald Reagan Highway very closely and, intially at least, may even be parallel and immediately north of the highway. The track then crosses to the south side of the highway (as a response to the proximity of the mast?), followed by some lengthy turns, and then heads north over the highway. As I have already mentioned, the penultimate recorded position appears very close to the mast, after which it quickly ends at the apparent crash site.

Was the R44 low enough to strike the mast, or the mast's securing cables, and continue airborne for a short while before crashing nearby? We don't yet know.

The post by wrench1 (#15) links to an FAA website which briefly states "AIRCRAFT TAIL ROTOR STRUCK A TREE AND CRASHED INVERTED IN A FIELD ...". You will have seen that the apparent crash site is located in a woodland area, and there are several wide open fields to the north, so did the R44 actually end up in the fields just north of the woodland? There don't appear to have been any photos of the crash site yet, so unsure on that point.

Perhaps the tree it struck is one of the very many close to the northern edge of the wooded area, and the R44 ended it's flight very shortly thereafter, in one of those fields? I somehow doubt the accident site would be reported as "inverted in a field" if the R44 had come to rest within the woodland. Perhaps the R44 had become too low for it's track to be further recorded, after it passed just north of the mast?

If it was one of the trees to the north of the mast which was struck by the tail rotor, then to be that low, at night, that close to the mast (assuming the crew were already aware of the mast), suggests things were not going at all well. The R44 could have been on it's way earthwards for several reasons - collision with the mast; engine failure; disorientation - but I just know the mast itself looms large in my mind. The feeling in my bones is that any tail rotor strike with a tree is possibly a follow-on to some other primary problem, which then brought them to an altitude low enough to strike a tree.

In any event, a tragic incident, and only time will tell what happened here. The paragraphs above are just me 'thinking aloud' on this one.

Last edited by Stuart Sutcliffe; 29th Mar 2023 at 12:56. Reason: Spelling; attempt at improving clarity of one paragraph.
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Old 29th Mar 2023, 11:24
  #32 (permalink)  
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Hmmm, would be waiting for a change of obstacle impacted... that tower is too inviting a target, and the TRB hit a... how tall was the tree? Lousiana is fun for low level ops, down south, what stands out everywhere else are the towers.
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Old 29th Mar 2023, 12:22
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Originally Posted by [email protected]
Presumably the FAA oversees and regulates what happens in Law Enforcement aviation?
Depends on the type of operation. I believe the BRPD ops was Public Use so no FAA oversight and only need to follow basic Part 91 air space rules. A number of public/govt entities operate in a similar fashion. FYI: this program has been flying for over 10 years.
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Old 29th Mar 2023, 13:23
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Megan,

Some background information re Police Aviation in the United States......one thing it mentioned is the number of police units that exist in the Country that will demonstrate why it is as most things here....is a complex situation that involves the many political jurisdictions (Federal Government/State/County/City that are operators of "police helicopters/airplanes.


https://www.police1.com/police-produ...7lrP04E5tC6lq/

The leading association for the Police Aviation Sector has recently changed names and has about 3,000 members.

This link will take you to the Safety Page at their website which will provide some background to how professional organizations have been formed to improve the many police units around the country.

Just as in the EMS aviation sector....the Police have focused efforts on improving the safety of member operations through training and education.

These groups are quite similar to the efforts by the HAI for traditional utility and air taxi operators.

There are magazine articles that are linked within the web site that can be accessed for reading.

https://publicsafetyaviation.org/safety-menu

Last edited by SASless; 29th Mar 2023 at 13:37.
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Old 29th Mar 2023, 14:32
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https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime...&ICID=ref_fark

Interesting twist
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Old 29th Mar 2023, 16:05
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Originally Posted by widgeon
It will not stick---they cannot prove intent. This is a knee jerk reaction. IIRC the same charge was added to the driver of a pursuit years ago when two news helicopters collided above it---that did not stick, a simple precedence is all that is needed to get this guy off that charge.
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Old 29th Mar 2023, 16:41
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Unless he drove into the tail rotor
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Old 29th Mar 2023, 17:45
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Gordy,

Remember each State has its own set of criminal laws and depending upon the wording of the Statute in that particular State determines what acts can be deemed to be (in this case) Manslaughter.

The Louisiana Statute:

https://law.justia.com/codes/louisia...itle-14/rs-31/

I see a clear cut case as I read the Statute.....resisting arrest, speeding at 135 mph on a public roadway, and the two Officers participating in the pursuit......if I were a Prosecutor I would take that case to Court.

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Old 29th Mar 2023, 17:59
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Originally Posted by Gordy
It will not stick---they cannot prove intent.
FYI: that is why it is manslaughter and not homicide. No intent needed. A number of states to include LA have laws where if a person is killed during the commission of a crime a person can be charged with their death. However, it goes both ways in some cases. There have been cops charged with the higher crime of negligent homicide when people have been killed during pursuits.
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Old 29th Mar 2023, 18:37
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Originally Posted by wrench1
FYI: that is why it is manslaughter and not homicide. No intent needed. A number of states to include LA have laws where if a person is killed during the commission of a crime a person can be charged with their death. However, it goes both ways in some cases. There have been cops charged with the higher crime of negligent homicide when people have been killed during pursuits.
Originally Posted by SASless
Gordy,

Remember each State has its own set of criminal laws and depending upon the wording of the Statute in that particular State determines what acts can be deemed to be (in this case) Manslaughter.

The Louisiana Statute:

https://law.justia.com/codes/louisia...itle-14/rs-31/

I see a clear cut case as I read the Statute.....resisting arrest, speeding at 135 mph on a public roadway, and the two Officers participating in the pursuit......if I were a Prosecutor I would take that case to Court.
I see that the "intent" is not needed, but I would still go with it being thrown out based upon this:

resulting in the death of a human being where it was foreseeable that the offender's conduct during the commission of the crime could result in death or great bodily harm to a human being,

A defense attorney will argue there was no foreseeable way to know pilots would die.....

Either way, it will be an interesting trial to watch.
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