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NTSB releases final report, cause of fatal Mercy Flight helicopter crash in Elba

todayDecember 13, 2023 5

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The National Transportation Safety Board released its final report on the 2022 Mercy Flight helicopter crash in Elba that killed two people, citing pilot error as the probable cause for the crash.

According to the newly released report, the pilots were performing a training exercise on the afternoon of April 26, 2022 that required the pilot to pull the helicopter out of unideal conditions, called a “vortex ring state.” While this exercise was being performed, the blades of the helicopter struck the tail, causing the helicopter to break up mid-flight.

The crash killed pilot James Sauer from the Rochester suburb of Churchville and Bell pilot Stewart Dietrick of Prosper, Texas, who was serving as the flight instructor. Both were 60 years old.

The report states that during an 18-second span from 12:59:26 to 12:59:44, the helicopter was in the vortex ring state. At 12:59:47, flight data shows that there were “multiple abrupt control inputs,” which caused the crash right around the same time. Witnesses reported seeing the helicopter “almost stationary” and then hearing a loud bang as it started to fly away before descending out of control.

NTSB releases preliminary report of Mercy Flight crash

The crash happened during the second training flight of the day. During the first flight, an unidentified pilot stated in the report he felt uncomfortable and did not know why he and Dietrick were going “so deep” into the vortex ring state and that Dietrick was just “sitting there, hands on his lap.” The pilot added he was surprised that he did not intervene when the helicopter got deeper into the state.

The NTSB noted that another cause was the instructor’s “inadequate monitoring of the flight.”

The helicopter, a Bell Helicopter Textron Canada 429 model, had its last entry into a maintenance logbook two days before the crash and reflected airframe and engine total times of 1,039.6 hours.

Sauer, who died in the crash, had worked for the Rochester Police Department, was a civilian pilot for the New York State Police and served in the New York Army National Guard. He had started flying for Mercy Flight in 2020. He had 6,030 hours of flight time, while Dietrick had 2,850 hours of flight time, including 500 in that helicopter make and model.

Sauer, Mercy Flight pilot, remembered for his ‘service attitude’

The crash occurred near Norton and Edgerton roads, just north of Batavia.

You can see the full report on the crash below.

​ BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The National Transportation Safety Board released its final report on the 2022 Mercy Flight helicopter crash in Elba that killed two people, citing pilot error as the probable cause for the crash.

According to the newly released report, the pilots were performing a training exercise on the afternoon of April 26, 2022 that required the pilot to pull the helicopter out of unideal conditions, called a “vortex ring state.” While this exercise was being performed, the blades of the helicopter struck the tail, causing the helicopter to break up mid-flight.

The crash killed pilot James Sauer from the Rochester suburb of Churchville and Bell pilot Stewart Dietrick of Prosper, Texas, who was serving as the flight instructor. Both were 60 years old.

The report states that during an 18-second span from 12:59:26 to 12:59:44, the helicopter was in the vortex ring state. At 12:59:47, flight data shows that there were “multiple abrupt control inputs,” which caused the crash right around the same time. Witnesses reported seeing the helicopter “almost stationary” and then hearing a loud bang as it started to fly away before descending out of control.
NTSB releases preliminary report of Mercy Flight crash
The crash happened during the second training flight of the day. During the first flight, an unidentified pilot stated in the report he felt uncomfortable and did not know why he and Dietrick were going “so deep” into the vortex ring state and that Dietrick was just “sitting there, hands on his lap.” The pilot added he was surprised that he did not intervene when the helicopter got deeper into the state.

The NTSB noted that another cause was the instructor’s “inadequate monitoring of the flight.”

The helicopter, a Bell Helicopter Textron Canada 429 model, had its last entry into a maintenance logbook two days before the crash and reflected airframe and engine total times of 1,039.6 hours.

Sauer, who died in the crash, had worked for the Rochester Police Department, was a civilian pilot for the New York State Police and served in the New York Army National Guard. He had started flying for Mercy Flight in 2020. He had 6,030 hours of flight time, while Dietrick had 2,850 hours of flight time, including 500 in that helicopter make and model.
Sauer, Mercy Flight pilot, remembered for his ‘service attitude’
The crash occurred near Norton and Edgerton roads, just north of Batavia.

You can see the full report on the crash below.

Report_ERA22FA207_105004_12_13_2023-8_12_50-AMDownload Read More LocalRochesterFirst  

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