Mon, Jul 18, 2005
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
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.
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