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NTSB Provides An Update On VA Police Helicopter Accident Investigation

Preliminary Report Expected Within Two To Three Weeks

The NTSB has released an update into its ongoing investigation of the crash of a Virginia State Police helicopter that occurred on Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

According to the board, the purpose of the accident flight was to provide a continuous video feed of activities on the ground, which was accomplished with multiple helicopters. The accident helicopter (N31VA), was a Bell 407, manufactured in 2000.  It departed Charlottesville airport at 3:54 pm ET and was over the downtown area at 4:04 pm and engaged in mission-related activities there until 4:42, at which time it departed the area to provide support for a motorcade carrying Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

The last observed radar coverage indicates that the accident helicopter was traveling north/northeast at about 30 knots (34 mph) at an altitude of 2,300 feet. The first 911 call reporting the crash was received at 4:44 pm.  The crash site is about 7 miles southwest of the Charlottesville airport. The helicopter’s vertical flight path was about 45 degrees when it descended into trees.  The main wreckage came to rest about 100 yards from where the aft portion of the tail boom became lodged in a tree.

Other facts released by the NTSB:

  • There was a post-crash fire.
  • The was no distress call from the accident helicopter.
  • The NTSB and the Virginia State Police are interviewing witnesses who reported seeing the helicopter in flight shortly before the crash.
  • The helicopter was not equipped with a flight data recorder or a cockpit voice recorder, nor was it required to be.
  • Investigators are working with local authorities today to recover the helicopter wreckage to a secure location where additional examination and documentation can be conducted.
  • The NTSB has been working closely with the Virginia State Police and appreciates it efforts to support the NTSB investigation.

A preliminary report detailing the facts and circumstances of the crash that have been developed in this early stage of the investigation will be available on the NTSB website within 2-3 weeks. The entire investigation is expected to last 12-18 months.

(Image from file. Not accident helicopter)

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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