NTSB Data Show Loose Line a Common Crash Cause

 - December 2, 2009, 10:34 AM

On November 1, a Bell LongRanger operated by Rotorcraft Leasing was taking off from oil-drilling platform High Island A442A in the Gulf of Mexico en route to another platform when the engine lost power and the pilot inflated the pontoons and landed in the water. The helicopter rolled inverted after touchdown, according to the NTSB. The pilot was seriously injured and the passenger suffered minor injuries. The occupants were rescued by a nearby offshore supply vessel, then a U.S. Coast Guard MH-65C Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Houston transported them to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas. According to the NTSB preliminary report, after investigators recovered the LongRanger and moved it to Rotorcraft Leasing’s base in Broussard, La., the Rolls-Royce 250 engine’s “Pc line was found loose.” In a search of the NTSB accident database, AIN found five helicopter accidents since 2000 involving loose Pc (compressor discharge pressure) lines. A Rolls-Royce Alert Service Letter revised in 2007 notes that “Rolls-Royce continues to be involved in investigations of aircraft accidents and incidents which are attributed to improper alignment, clamping and torquing of engine tubing during installation.”