Broward County Police Copter Down

Kelvin

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There are survivors from the copter...

It looks like there may be an engine fire. I am not a rotor pilot but it sure looks like the pilot flew the copter all the way to the ground...


 
Pilot was doing definitely trying to save things all the way to the ground…
 
Engine or gearbox fire? Whatever it was, the tail boom folded for some reason.
 
Pilot was doing definitely trying to save things all the way to the ground…
I know ZERO about flying a rotorwing but from the video it looks like the pilot was all over it...
 

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I can't believe the pilot was not in an immediate descent to land anywhere. Structural fires in a helicopter require landing ASAP!
My thought exactly. Only explanation is he didn’t quite comprehend it was on fire until it was too late. In addition, there had to be some noises or vibration that gave him a clue, to include the gauges. Strange actions by the pilot.
 
I can't believe the pilot was not in an immediate descent to land anywhere. Structural fires in a helicopter require landing ASAP!
My thought as well. In the first 4 or 5 seconds of the video it could have been descending, instead of flying (what appears to be) straight and level. It's easy to arm chair quarterback though. They may not have known how bad the problem was.
 
Yes.
I can't believe the pilot was not in an immediate descent to land anywhere.
It appears he had the airport insight (close) when it went down. Passed a number of fields, etc. on the way. While its possible he may not have known of the fire, if he was flying with a big FIRE light flashing then he owns this. He's very lucky the tailboom didn't completely detach. And another reason I'm not a fan of composites. They don't handle fire too well.
EDIT: He was a 1.5 mi out from airport when they turned around. Made it half way back.
 
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Good that there were no fatalities. Looks like the pilot had control of the helicopter until the tail boom folde.
 
No telling what indications he had leading up to loss of control. But (arm chair quarterbacking) if he entered an auto as soon as that uncommanded right yaw started, he could’ve salvaged it.

Easier said than done though. Like the two Black Hawks that went down in Mogadishu. Neither one entered an auto when they lost their tail rotors. Key is identifying the problem before you’re looking out your left door through 90 degrees of rotation. Basically has to be instinctive.
 
Yes.

It appears he had the airport insight (close) when it went down. Passed a number of fields, etc. on the way. While its possible he may not have known of the fire, if he was flying with a big FIRE light flashing then he owns this. He's very lucky the tailboom didn't completely detach. And another reason I'm not a fan of composites. They don't handle fire too well.
EDIT: He was a 1.5 mi out from airport when they turned around. Made it half way back.

That is what I had read elsewhere too. He had just departed the airport when he reported an "engine failure" and immediately returned. He may not have had a fire caution and just thought he lost one?

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No telling what indications he had leading up to loss of control. But (arm chair quarterbacking) if he entered an auto as soon as that uncommanded right yaw started, he could’ve salvaged it.

Easier said than done though. Like the two Black Hawks that went down in Mogadishu. Neither one entered an auto when they lost their tail rotors. Key is identifying the problem before you’re looking out your left door through 90 degrees of rotation. Basically has to be instinctive.

I'm not a rotorhead, but once the tail boom folded would an autorotation still give him any control?
 
I'm not a rotorhead, but once the tail boom folded would an autorotation still give him any control?

At that altitude and speed, probably not. It would slow the rotation but wouldn’t salvage a landing. That’s why I said it has to be instinctive. Once that nose starts turning passed 90 degrees and you haven't entered an auto yet, you’re done.

But, like I said, easier said than done. In the sim we’re constantly alert for loss of tail rotor thrust so therefore, we expect it. In real life we don’t have that luxury. What we’ve started doing the sim the past few years is they fail the tail rotor and we have to let it do one complete rotation to simulate a normal human reaction. Sometimes I can land it without a red screen, other times, not so much.

It’s all about the flight profile too. If it occurs at cruise, you can actually keep flying along no problem. In the above vid at that speed and with a fire, continued flight is not an option.
 
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He may not have had a fire caution and just thought he lost one?
Its possible. There are 2 thermal fire detectors on each engine. One on the front side on the gearbox and one under the combustion chamber at the rear. If the fire was aft and below the detector it may not hit the trigger temp and give a fire light. The aircraft also has a fire extinguisher system for both engines. If the engine and indicating data storage units survive the post fire they will be able to figure out the failure sequence down to the second.
 
You can definitely see the fire in this vid. RIP.

 
There is a longer video that shows the 60 seconds leading up to the tail boom failure. It's streaming smoke and I believe flames are visible from the left engine the entire time. It would be amazing to me if that didn't trigger the FIRE light, but I am not a rotorhead.
 
Just watched a news conference from the BSO department. They said the crew knew they had a fire and tried to extinguish it. Also they confirmed a pilot parametic died as well as one person in the apartment building that the helicopter crashed into.
 
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Just watched a news conference from the BSO department. They said the crew knew they had a fire and tried to extinguish it. Also they confirmed the pilot died as well as one person in the apartment building that the helicopter crashed into.

The paramedic passed, not the pilot per their Facebook. They were basically on top of the field, just not close enough. If you have a fire light, blow the bottles and land. Auto down in a street or think you have the extra 15 seconds to make the airport property when everything is feeling fine. That’s a tough call! I would have tried to make the field too.
 
There's a short audio clip of the crew declaring an emergency to KPMP tower.


I'll transcribe it here:

"Pompano Tower, BSO Nine"
"BSO Nine, [unintelligble]"
"We just had an engine failure, uh we're going to require priority for a runway, please, we're declaring an emergency"
[inaudible response from tower]
"Cleared to land runway Six, BSO Nine"

Dude sounded very calm.
 
The paramedic passed, not the pilot per their Facebook. They were basically on top of the field, just not close enough. If you have a fire light, blow the bottles and land. Auto down in a street or think you have the extra 15 seconds to make the airport property when everything is feeling fine. That’s a tough call! I would have tried to make the field too.
Ok, thanks for the clarification. My mistake!
 
The paramedic passed, not the pilot per their Facebook. They were basically on top of the field, just not close enough. If you have a fire light, blow the bottles and land. Auto down in a street or think you have the extra 15 seconds to make the airport property when everything is feeling fine. That’s a tough call! I would have tried to make the field too.

That would have been a tough situation. Yeah its obvious on Monday morning to just land right where you are, on a road or open patch of grass. But the airport was oh so close. That fire downed that aircraft way faster than I think anyone could have anticipated. The entire flight according to the ADS-b returns was just a few seconds over two minutes. From the point of turn back, only a minute. I don't think anyone could have reasonably expected a fire to cause the tail to fall off in 60 seconds.
 
Yeah at 650 ft up, I’m sure the pilot thought by the time he tries to descend and make an approach to one of the fields (westside park), he could be on final to the airport. Still, the NTSB will sharpshoot the decision because the EP calls for land as soon as possible. Just a tough situation to be in.
 
because the EP calls for land as soon as possible.
On the 135 if the initial response to a fire light does not cause the fire to extinguish its land immediately. Same for other Airbus models. Having watched the extended video where he flies trailing just smoke for a very long time (20-30 sec) until the flames finally become evident the NTSB won't have much to investigate. Will be interesting if it has a CVRFDR onboard.
I don't think anyone could have reasonably expected a fire to cause the tail to fall off in 60 seconds.
It would if the fire is in the wrong spot. And if the fire was where I think it was then he was lucky to get his 60 seconds.
wth is in a tailboom that can catch fire?
The fire was more than likely an engine related fire and the composite tailboom mostly failed due to excessive heat/flame on the composite structure.
 
On the 135 if the initial response to a fire light does not cause the fire to extinguish its land immediately. Same for other Airbus models. Having watched the extended video where he flies trailing just smoke for a very long time (20-30 sec) until the flames finally become evident the NTSB won't have much to investigate. Will be interesting if it has a CVRFDR onboard.

It would if the fire is in the wrong spot. And if the fire was where I think it was then he was lucky to get his 60 seconds.

The fire was more than likely an engine related fire and the composite tailboom mostly failed due to excessive heat/flame on the composite structure.

Yeah, whether the light stayed on (immediately) or the light went off (as soon as possible), unfortunately going back to the airport isn’t the EP description.
 
Even the most hardy composite I worked with has a glass transition temperature around 475°F. Not many matrix materials have strength to outlast a fire (maybe ceramics, but you ain't making a tail boom out of that $tuff).
 
I can’t be too critical of this pilot’s decision. In the EP you’re cutting fuel to that engine and sending extinguishing agent to it. You’re on one engine and from what I’ve heard from work, the 135 isn’t exactly over powered. Runway was probably in the back of his mind. I’d be hard pressed to land a Black Hawk on one engine in the fields west of the airport. Maybe that football field but we’re talking a split second decision based on uncertainty. I think the pilot did the best they could based on the conditions.
 
I think ya’ll haters seem to be forgetting exactly how close he was to the airport. We’re not talking minutes, we’re talking seconds. Who knows what the lights were or were not doing. Maybe his lights went out, maybe they didn’t. Regardless, he did the best he could with what he had I firmly believe.

You can make 10 different decisions when you have 20 minutes to sit back and think about it, but when you have a flight that short, there’s no time for pulling a checklist, it’s pilotage.
 
I think ya’ll haters seem to be forgetting exactly how close he was to the airport.
Haters? Not even. Just educated guesses at this point. Same for a number of other experienced 135 pilots as well as most are trying to understand the dynamics of the incident. Proximity to the airport is moot as he could land anywhere. And thats the point all things equal. ;)
 
I think ya’ll haters seem to be forgetting exactly how close he was to the airport. We’re not talking minutes, we’re talking seconds. Who knows what the lights were or were not doing. Maybe his lights went out, maybe they didn’t. Regardless, he did the best he could with what he had I firmly believe.

You can make 10 different decisions when you have 20 minutes to sit back and think about it, but when you have a flight that short, there’s no time for pulling a checklist, it’s pilotage.
??? No haters here. We’re only looking at the options the pilot has to combat this emergency. Doesn’t matter what you or I think. NTSB is going to determine if the pilot chose correctly between land immediately or going to the airport. And yes, if compliance with a checklist isn’t adhered to, they’ll get him on that as well. Part of the scrutiny that you deal with in being a professional pilot.
 
Haters? Not even. Just educated guesses at this point. Same for a number of other experienced 135 pilots as well as most are trying to understand the dynamics of the incident. Proximity to the airport is moot as he could land anywhere. And thats the point all things equal. ;)

??? No haters here. We’re only looking at the options the pilot has to combat this emergency. Doesn’t matter what you or I think. NTSB is going to determine if the pilot chose correctly between land immediately or going to the airport. And yes, if compliance with a checklist isn’t adhered to, they’ll get him on that as well. Part of the scrutiny that you deal with in being a professional pilot.
Again, the difference between landing now and landing at the airport was a matter of seconds in this case. He was less than a minute from the airport, one minute, 60 seconds. The entire flight from takeoff to crash was just a few seconds more than two minutes long. How much time for analysis and reaction to the emergency did the pilot get. Probably didn't even have time to pull out and complete the checklist before the tail came off.

An argument could be made it would have been safer to land at the airport than to select an unknown landing area with potential obstacles.
 
Sucks. All happened so fast. Time it would take to find suitable place. Field was seconds away. Just didn’t have those couple extra seconds.
 
All moot now, but I still can't understand the decision to cruise along straight and level for more than one second, much less one minute. Split the needles, roll it over and dive into one of those fields directly under his flight path (and there were a few). Flare the crap out of it, smack it on the ground, bend the skids, do whatever to get people out of that aircraft. Guess folks don't practice that stuff any more.

Had the pilot seen that trail of smoke and fire behind him, I believe that would have been his choice.
 
Again, the difference between landing now and landing at the airport was a matter of seconds in this case. He was less than a minute from the airport, one minute, 60 seconds. The entire flight from takeoff to crash was just a few seconds more than two minutes long. How much time for analysis and reaction to the emergency did the pilot get. Probably didn't even have time to pull out and complete the checklist before the tail came off.

An argument could be made it would have been safer to land at the airport than to select an unknown landing area with potential obstacles.
But that’s fixed wing pilot thinking. It’s different than say that Duke pilot who had the engine fire and crashed a while back. In that case, you wanna stretch it to a runway because touching down in a small field at Duke speeds is undesirable.

As helicopter pilots, we’re required to land at unknown (open field) areas to meet the requirements of an emergency. That’s acceptable risk based on meeting the demands of a high risk emergency. An EP like this is similar to a trans chip light. You don’t reference a checklist, you land. You don’t extend anything. You land now. That means you find either the nearest suitable landing area (land as soon as possible) or anywhere that fits a helicopter (land immediately). That pilot had those two options.

The only question that’s relevant is if the pilot had enough power to land in the open fields with a run on landing. @k9medic is a 135 guy so he might provide some insight. I honestly don’t know how slow they can get in a 135 and there’s several factors involved (type engines, weight, DA, winds, etc). I would think they could plant it in that football field at 40 kts and get out ok. Still, some other unknowns involved. We don’t even know if that engine was shutdown or even if that pilot could see the fields out the left while sitting in the right seat. Just a bad situation to be in.
 
Maybe haters was a strong word, I take that back. The Monday morning opinions though are just that though. I’m dual rated fixed and rotary as well.
 
The fire was more than likely an engine related fire and the composite tailboom mostly failed due to excessive heat/flame on the composite structure.

Might I suggest a firewall, between the engine and the heat-sensitive tailboom structure?
 
Might I suggest a firewall, between the engine and the heat-sensitive tailboom structure?
Firewalls have been a certification requirement since day one. However, their only purpose is to allow for a controlled landing per the established emergency procedures. The tailboom is protected on all sides by those firewalls. The pic below shows them with the #1 engine fwd inboard firewall removed. The tailboom is mounted in-line with the aft firewalls and about 8" lower than engine exhaust stacks.

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