Blade Separation Preceded EC135 Crash

 - February 16, 2010, 11:08 AM

Preliminary indications are that blade failure played a role in the fatal crash of a 2000 American Eurocopter EC135T1 near Cave Creek, Ariz., on Sunday afternoon. Witnesses on the ground reported hearing a popping sound and then seeing parts fly off the helicopter before it rolled several times, pitched 90 degrees nose-down into the ground and caught fire. The NTSB confirmed to AIN that parts of the rotor blades were found half a mile from the crash site. The helicopter was en route from Flagstaff to Scottsdale Air Park when it crashed in a desert wash between two houses, killing all five aboard. Among the passengers were the helicopter’s owner–billionaire Thomas Stewart, CEO of Services Group of America–his wife, five-year-old daughter and the pilot. Stewart is remembered for unsuccessfully trying to get the city of Seattle to approve a helipad on the roof of his office building there, and eventually taking the matter to the Washington State Supreme Court.