Loss of engine power during landing approach due to a fatigue fracture in a power turbine blade caused the fatal helicopter crash, according to the Board. N67GE, operated by Island Express Helicopters, was landing on Santa Catalina Island at the end of a Part 135 flight from Long Beach when witnesses heard a “pop” sound and saw flames emanating from the back of the engine. The helicopter then crashed and was consumed by fire. Three people were killed and three others seriously injured.
A surviving passenger stated that just after the “pop” the pilot said he was going to autorotate, leading investigators to conclude the AStar had experienced a loss of power.
Post-accident investigation of the engine revealed damage typical of fatigue cracking to four consecutive power turbine blades. A review of the company maintenance records showed that all was satisfactory. Following the accident, Honeywell Aerospace issued service bulletins to address the removal and inspection of the turbine assemblies with regard to cracking of the airfoil that can lead to a blade separati