Eurocopter EC 120B, Fair Oaks, Calif., July 13, 2005–The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Eurocopter lost power and crashed in steep hilly terrain, killing the commercial pilot and seriously injuring the student-pilot-rated observer trainee. The helicopter was substantially damaged.
The pilot transmitted, “Mayday, mayday, mayday; we’re going down.” Within minutes, several people reported that they had just witnessed a possible helicopter crash. They reported hearing a “popping” noise and saw flames and smoke coming from the exhaust of the helicopter just before it hit the ground. Examination revealed a total loss of the free turbine blades. The main rotor blades indicated low rotational energy at the time of impact.