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Mon, Jul 18, 2005

Engine Failure Caused Chopper Crash

Turbine Failure

The National Transportation Safety Board announced Friday that catastrophic internal engine failure caused the crash of a Sacramento County Sheriff's Department helicopter last Wednesday. The Eurocopter EC 120 went down near Lake Natoma, killing two, and critically injuring one.

NTSB officials said the helicopter engine's turbine blades disintegrated while in flight.

"It broke. It simply broke," said NTSB investigator George Petterson to KCRA.

Petterson also said that pockmarks and soot scars were clear evidence of a mechanical failure.

"That means that the engine is emitting some sharp metal objects. And as they hit the wall of the tailpipe, they're going to leave a pock mark," said Petterson.

"We do have some satisfaction knowing it was not pilot error," said Undersheriff John McGuinness. "And for our mechanics who service the aircrafts on a regular basis, I think there's some relief on their part."

The sheriff's department grounded its other EC120 helicopters until more information about the crash is available.

NTSB officials are investigating what caused the turbines to disintegrate. The helicopter's flight data recorder was recovered and is being sent to Europe for examination.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov, www.sacsheriff.com

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