Home Miami TV Probable Cause of WPEC Chopper Crash

Probable Cause of WPEC Chopper Crash

WPEC Sky 12 Helicopter Crash. Image: WPEC

The NTSB has concluded its investigation into the crash of WPEC’s news chopper that happened on November 11, 2008.

According to the probable cause report by the NTSB safety board, Sky 12 crashed because of “a loose pressure compressor line from the power turbine governor to the fuel control unit and the “B”-nut was found loose to the point of no thread engagement.”

The crash happened about 6:10am on November 12, 2008 roughly 8 minutes after pilot Takayuki Tanaka and reporter Paul Cavenaugh departed from Palm Beach County Park Airport in Lantana.

At about 1,000 feet the Bell 206B manufactured in 1981 “… yawed to the left and the low rotor and engine out system activated”. The pilot entered auto rotation procedures (allowing the chopper to glide) ultimately landing the chopper in an industrial area in Boyton Beach mere feet away from powerl ines and far enough from the nearby buildings.

When the chopper hit the ground the skids broke along with the tail. The fuselage ruptured and fuel started leaking out.

The pilot only suffered minor injuries but the Palm Beach Post says Paul Cavenaugh had a fractured vertebra and now has an aortic aneurysm the size of a softball though he doesn’t know if it is related to the crash or not. He has attorneys pursuing a claim for injuries.

The engine logbook entries indicated that on November 8, 2008 the engine gearbox had been opened and inspected and no defects were found. The pilot had 2,708 total hours of flight experience and 137 total hours flying a Bell 206B.

You can read the full NTSB report here


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