Factual Report: Helicopter Crashes During Police Chase

 - February 24, 2010, 8:33 AM

Bell 206L-4, Conroe, Texas, Oct. 13, 2008–After lifting off from Houston Hobby Airport to cover a police chase, N6ZV crashed in the W.G Jones State Forest, killing the commercial pilot and the news videographer, who were ejected from the wreckage.

According to a witness, the helicopter was flying north at approximately 350 feet when it nosed over and entered “a sharp 90 degree downward flight.” Another observer also saw the news helicopter in a steep right bank as it nosed down and dived toward the ground. A DVD of the helicopter’s camera feed provided by KTRK-TV showed the LongRanger enter a slow smooth roll to the right about 20 seconds before the end of the recording. Before the ground went out of view, the helicopter’s left skid appeared to be parallel with the horizon.

Most of the helicopter’s cockpit and fuselage was destroyed in the crash and resulting fire. The freewheeling unit, when examined at the accident site, would not rotate when either the N2 or driveshaft flanges were turned. Further investigation of the unit at Bell Helicopter revealed overload fractures in the spline, while a sprag also showed evidence of overload fracture. Examination of the engine components by Rolls-Royce found deviations from the specification parameters in the fuel nozzle, but none was deemed significant enough to affect engine performance substantially.