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PPL all that' s needed for longline / fire work?


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Is this allowed? The NTSB reports says that the PIC held a PPL. I feel bad for the pilot and his family, christmas day....


NTSB Identification: LAX06FA069

14 CFR Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load

Accident occurred Sunday, December 25, 2005 in Lihue, HI

Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas Helicopters MD369FF, registration: N530MD

Injuries: 1 Fatal.


This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.


On December 25, 2005, at 1740 Hawaiian standard time, a McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Inc., (MDHI) 369FF helicopter, N530MD, impacted small trees and water at the De Mello reservoir following an in-flight loss of control near Lihue, Hawaii. The helicopter was operated by Smoky Mountain Helicopters, Hanapepe, Hawaii, doing business as Inter-Island Helicopters (Air-1) as a fire suppression asset for the Kauai Fire Department (KFD) under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 133, Rotorcraft External Load Operations. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured, and the helicopter was substantially damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and a flight plan had not been filed. The local flight departed a parking lot located in the vicinity of a brush fire near Lihue, about 10 minutes prior to the accident.


According to Inter-Island Helicopter personnel, they received a call from KFD requesting their assistance in suppressing a brush fire that was nearing an apartment complex. The company's chief pilot dispatched the accident pilot and the ground supervisor to the fire to assist KFD personnel. According to the ground supervisor, the pilot flew him to the apartment parking lot where he then proceeded to hook up the 25-foot line and 140-gallon Bambi Bucket to the helicopter. The pilot then departed the parking lot and headed to the De Mello reservoir to fill the bucket with water.


A witness located near the accident site reported that the helicopter dropped down over the reservoir and he lost sight of the helicopter behind the tree line. He then observed the helicopter rise up in a "vertical" manner from the reservoir with the bucket still attached. He indicated that the nose of the helicopter was pointed down some. The helicopter then began to rotate in a counterclockwise direction. The rotation became "very violent, very fast." At this point in the event, the witness heard the engine "rev up really loud." Others located at the park then noticed the helicopter due to the loud engine noise. The helicopter was spinning violently, and then he heard the engine "shutdown or stall." The rotation of the helicopter began to slow and the nose began to level as the helicopter descended back down toward the reservoir. The witness then lost sight of the helicopter as it descended behind the tree line, and commented that the descent seemed more controlled. He also indicated that the bucket remained attached to the helicopter throughout the entire event and was not sure if the pilot disconnected the bucket line as it descended below the tree line. He added that the tail rotor system remained attached to the helicopter throughout his view of the event. When asked how high the helicopter was during the event, he couldn't say for sure but estimated that it was below 100 feet above the ground.


The helicopter was submerged in the reservoir with the exception of the right skid/struts. Small trees, with limb diameters ranging between 1 to 2 inches, were freshly cut along the bank in the vicinity of the helicopter. The helicopter was recovered from the reservoir on December 26, 2005, with the National Transporation Safety Board investigator-in-charge present.


The bucket and line were not attached to the external load hook located on the belly of the helicopter. The helicopter's fuselage remained intact, but sustained impact deformation to its undercarriage in the up direction. The left side of the helicopter, in front of the pilot's seat, sustained the most impact damage in the up and aft direction.


The tail boom sustained deformation damage to its left side consistent with the shape of the main rotor blade's leading edge. Yellow paint transfers were noted in the tail boom damage, and were consistent with the yellow color found on the main rotor blades.


The horizontal and vertical stabilizer section, with the tail rotor gearbox and tail rotor blades intact and attached, separated from the tail boom about 8 inches forward of the vertical stabilizer's leading edge. The tail rotor gearbox rotated freely when the blades were manually manipulated. The drive shaft was fractured at the tail boom separation point, and the section of drive shaft that stayed with the gearbox displayed a corresponding rotation when the tail rotor blades were manually rotated. The pitch change links for the tail rotor blades remained intact and attached to the blades. Manual variances of the blade angles resulted in a corresponding movement in the pitch change collar, pitch change elbow, and pitch change control rod.


The main rotor hub remained attached to the mast and the five main rotor blades were deformed and wrapped around the mast opposite the direction of rotation.


The wreckage was transported to the Lihue airport where it will be examined in more detail at a later date

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More interesting is this:


The helicopter then began to rotate in a counterclockwise direction.



Looking from the top or bottom? We pilots always tend to think of viewing the helicopter from the top. Somebody on the ground that isn't a pilot has a different perspective maybe...

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a witness on the ground looking up at a counter clockwise rotating american helicopter, would be clockwise as viewed from the top, no? (hard to believe one would have too much left pedal in a hi-hover & rapidly let the situation progress) Funny thing about accidents too, happens so fast that unless on film? really hard to say what you really saw. As far as the legality of it? FAR 61.113(B) looks to say it os ok ! News to me & i thought i really knew the regulations...... altho the property it is carrying ( for compensation) i would consider the water. As with most of the FAR's-----can be open to interpretation depending if you are a witness on the ground OR from above. :blink:

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Seems to me the pilot is OK according to the regs to do the longline work... But according to the article in the link above, the company was getting $750/hour for the longline work, and that isn't something I understand to be legal.


Is this the same guy (Jonathan=Jon) as in this photograph for Inter-Island Helicopters? Was he giving tours in February '05??...

Would seem almost too coincidental...

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IF it is the same kid?--maybe he gave the ride for free?--sure has nice helicopter tho ! The article in the link, the FAA person quoted:



" :Nicole Charnon, air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said D'Attilio had a private pilot's license for airplanes and helicopter operations, but did not have the commercial pilot's license the FAA generally requires for pilots who fly for federal, state or local agencies.

Charnon said, however, FAA regulations also note the commercial pilot's requirement may be waived in emergencies, and that it is up to the FAA to determine whether the situation on Kaua'i on Christmas Day qualifies as an emergency. "




She didn't mention anything about "for hire",,, isnt that the reason for a commercial rating? BUT the real question i have is the part where she say the note about the emergencies,,,, i have LOOKED and LOOKED ! does anyone know what reg she is talking about?

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IF it is the same kid?--maybe he gave the ride for free?--sure has nice helicopter tho !


I'll clear that issue up halfway... The photographer paid for the tour. He's from Austrialia... He and I have exchanged email. He couldn't tell me for sure if it is the same person, but the age of the young man is right in the neighborhood.


Also I understand waiving the FAR regs for inflight emergencies, but I'm not familiar of when it is allowed for an owner/operator to waive regs for the purpose of initiating for hire missions. Brings up an interesting point that maybe someone who knows the FARs better could clear up...

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As far as part 133 goes...


§ 133.21 Personnel.


(a) The applicant must hold, or have available the services of at least one person who holds, a current commercial or airline transport pilot certificate, with a rating appropriate for the rotorcraft prescribed in §133.19, issued by the Administrator.


§ 133.31 Emergency operations.


(a) In an emergency involving the safety of persons or property, the certificate holder may deviate from the rules of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.


So, for the purposes of part 133, if somebody is going to die then a private pilot could fly, if that was "the extent required to meet that emergency."


I don't know how part 91 or 61 would factor in, but it is permitted by part 133.

Edited by PhotoFlyer
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OH yip photoflyer ! i never thought of looking in part 133 DUH ! ! BTW? that neat little video you have by your name? is that a 300 doing a split S? guy i used to know did crazy stuff like that in his 300,, i never would let him do it w/ me in it tho !

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