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(AZCentral)   NTSB blaming a 2010 helicopter crash on a 5 year old girl   (azcentral.com) divider line 25
    More: Strange, National Transportation Safety Board, Cave Creek, plane crashes, Transportation Safety Board, helicopters  
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18332 clicks; posted to Main » on 11 Nov 2012 at 3:29 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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Archived thread
2012-11-10 07:39:32 PM
6 votes:
The blame should really go to her father for allowing her to be on his lap while flying the helicopter.
2012-11-11 08:35:57 AM
2 votes:
FTA: "The NTSB laid some blame on the pilot for not controlling his cockpit"

Since the dawn of time man has struggled, often in vain, to control the cockpit.
2012-11-11 08:10:43 AM
2 votes:

ToxicMunkee: Bathia_Mapes: The blame should really go to her father for allowing her to be on his lap while flying the helicopter.

I agree.


Except that the Pilot in Command should not have allowed the situation, so he should get the blame.
2012-11-11 03:34:10 AM
2 votes:

ElizaDoolittle: Ouch. I guess your friend was beyond caring, if that's any consolation. Did the funeral home charge extra for the weights? I'll bet they did.


And just for the record: way to be a dick, asshole.
2012-11-11 12:05:41 AM
2 votes:
From the Article:

The NTSB found that Stewart allowed his daughter, Sydney, to sit on his lap on a trip from his northern Arizona ranch to his home in Scottsdale, the Phoenix suburb where SGA is headquartered. It was "highly likely" that the child suddenly pushed down with her foot on the copter's controls, according to the Nov. 7. Either Stewart or his pilot then quickly pulled up on the controls, causing the helicopter's main blades to bend and strike the aircraft's tail, the report said.

WHAT THE fark?!

I mean, I could understand doing this if you were in a Cessna or something, but a helicopter? Holy shiat, man.

Reading further....

The report's conclusion was immediately challenged by the lawyer for the pilot's family, who has blamed a faulty rotor blade for the crash, and by Stewart's company."That's their interpretation, and it does not comport with what our experienced investigators believe happened," said Gary C. Robb, a Kansas City, Mo., attorney who specializes in aviation accidents. Robb has sued Eurocopter and others involved in repairing one of the helicopter's blades after a previous mishap. He said he believes the repair was faulty and the blade came apart in flight, causing the crash.

The NTSB found no evidence of that. It concluded that the repaired blade hit the tail rotor drive shaft and broke.

Eurocopter helped the NTSB investigate the crash and ran simulations that concluded that only a rapid down and then up movement on a control called a "collective" could have caused the accident.


Aha. So it comes out. That report is an inconvenience in their little lawsuit against Eurocopter America.

We Fly AS350B-2s from American Eurocopter at our service. Nice little machines. But I sure as hell wouldn't want a five year old setting in the cockpit seat of one. We're supposed to land if our patients become combative, even, until we get them restrained and sedated for safety reasons.
2012-11-10 07:48:46 PM
2 votes:

Bathia_Mapes: The blame should really go to her father for allowing her to be on his lap while flying the helicopter.


I agree.
2012-11-11 01:10:37 PM
1 votes:

RoyBatty: I do find it interesting that the NTSB report seems to make no mention of a blade being repaired.


Well, it wasn't repaired - one of the blades was replaced. If you want more info regarding the technical details of the accident, check this out.

Highlights:

All main rotor blade roots remained attached to the hub, and all main rotor blade bolts were intact. A section of the blue main rotor blade separated due to impact forces and came to rest at the main wreckage site. The three remaining main rotor blades (yellow, red, and green) remained attached to the hub but were missing some section of the respective blades, primarily at the outboard tip area.

AKA no catastrophic failure of the rotor. They can't just randomly dip down and take out the tail.

The instructor added that the accident pilot revealed that when the owner (who was not a rated helicopter pilot but was a rated fixed-wing airplane pilot) flew, he would get in the cockpit, flip switches, and go. The instructor reported that he felt that the accident pilot was intimidated by the owner and would not insist that proper aircraft procedures be followed.
2012-11-11 01:01:18 PM
1 votes:

RoyBatty: NTSB: "The most probable scenario to explain what caused the yellow blade to be in a position to strike the tail rotor drive shaft was that all of the main rotor blades were following a path that would have intersected the tail rotor drive shaft as a result of an abrupt and unusual control input. Further, witness marks that were on the tops of the blade cuffs likely occurred during the accident flight."

So the NTSB seems to be saying they had multiple scenarios, but they believe (it's not clear how they determined most probable scenario, was that a scientific conclusion based on probabilities, or an expert's judgment?) the most likely scenario is this one.

The family and mechanics seem to think it was a blade failure in a repaired blade.

It may be of more interest to aviation to wary of using repaired blades than of keeping your kids off your lap.

I do find it interesting that the NTSB report seems to make no mention of a blade being repaired. I am pretty sure way back in 2010 when the accident occurred, the paper was reporting the blade repairs even then.


From the report:

A postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed that the yellow blade had impacted the left horizontal endplate and the tail rotor
drive shaft in the area of the sixth hangar bearing, which resulted in the loss of control and subsequent impact with terrain. All of the
damage at the aft end of the steel section of the tail rotor drive shaft was consistent with a single impact from the yellow main rotor
blade. No preimpact failures or material anomalies were found in the wreckage and component examinations that could explain the
divergence of the yellow blade from the plane of main rotor rotation.


The bold part indicates that the NTSB's engineering branch was able to determine that the blade didn't fail prior to hitting the tail. I am not an engineer, but having seen the kind of forensic investigation they're able to do with components of a badly, badly damaged aircraft, I'm inclined to believe them. If it's a question of whether the blade separated from the hub prior to impacting the tail, the location of the impact point on the blade would be sufficient to allow them to rule out such a possibility.

I can tell you from personal involvement with a fatal air accident that the family of the pilot always has a theory that absolves their lost relative. That their theory was made public in the media, well, that doesn't really concern the NTSB. They're not in the business of responding.
2012-11-11 12:38:41 PM
1 votes:

ransack.: That helicopter doesn't have any blades...


And therefore is about as safe as a helicopter can be.
2012-11-11 12:19:03 PM
1 votes:

RoyBatty: How is aviation advanced here by a statement that they believe the girl stepped on the collective more than a statement that the NTSB believes a control input on the collective for an unknown reason caused the crash?


Ahem.

"For those of you who may be too stupid to recognize that letting a kid sit in your lap when there are also flight controls in your lap.. Allow us to help your out here: that's really farking stupid."

THAT's the benefit to aviation as a whole.

Indeed, all those times they find pilot error when it was almost certainly not pilot error, how does that help anyone? Seems much more likely to hurt aviation as a whole.

Got specific instances of "all those times"? I'd love to see some. Finally, I'd argue that pretending the vast majority of fatalities in aviation aren't>/I> caused by human error is far more dangerous to aviation as a whole.
2012-11-11 12:06:36 PM
1 votes:
The NTSB doesn't usually use words like "blame"... and in fact, they did not.

Here is the actual report.

Skip to the very last paragraph.

The "probable cause" was the controls being moved inappropriately. A "contributing factor" to the "probable cause" was absence of "cockpit discipline". Everything else is simply a statement of facts. 

//successfull_troll.jpg
2012-11-11 08:49:29 AM
1 votes:

Bathia_Mapes: The blame should really go to her father for allowing her to be on his lap while flying the helicopter.


No, if the accident happened as the NTSB concluded, then the pilot is to blame for allowing an unsafe condition in his cockpit.

BronyMedic: Aha. So it comes out. That report is an inconvenience in their little lawsuit against Eurocopter America.


Except it's not even an inconvenience. NTSB reports can't be used at trial. Eurocopter probably perfers that the NTSB find someone else at fault for publicity and future sales, but it won't make a difference at trial.

RoyBatty: If there is no eye witness that the girl ever kicked the collective in the past, I find it difficult for them to blame the crash on the kid. The statement it is "highly likely" seems outrageous. If they want to state their theory of unknown collective input, that's one thing, to go from there to kid must've done it, seems gross.

It also seems irresponsible to have a government agency make that statement with such little evidence when there are pending lawsuits.


The NTSB's job is to find the probable cause, to help improve safety. Their job is not to be a fact finder for trial, or to consider the feelings of the families of the dead. Their job is to protect the lives of the living. If the only plausible explanation is that the kid did it, then they should say so.

Could they be wrong? Sure. But companies and regulators need the best information possible to correct any faults in aircraft, pilot training, or the air traffic system. If the NTSB withheld their opinion out of a sense of fairness to the family or the girl's memory, some pilot down the road might repeat the tragic mistake.
2012-11-11 04:58:15 AM
1 votes:
I just remote-viewed the helicopter at the time of the crash and it turns out the father actually was the one who hit the collective with his knee. Woops.
2012-11-11 04:56:47 AM
1 votes:

RoyBatty: They literally have no evidence the girl kicked, or fell, or in anyway came in contact with the collective.

"It was "highly likely" that the child suddenly pushed down with her foot on the copter's controls, according to the Nov.7 report."

There is no evidence the girl was involved at all. They believe a rapid down and then up movement of the collective could cause the damage they found in the rotor. It is complete speculation as to what caused that rapid up and down movement of the collective.


Occam's Razor. There's no evidence of mechanical failure of the blade, and it was common knowledge that this man - who was NOT a pilot - made it a practice to do this.

This is what the cockpit of an AS350 (B2) model looks like.

www.airteamimages.com

That's the non-medical passenger model. The medical model with the stretcher mount has a different configuration. There's not a lot of room there at all. It's hardly inconceivable that a five year old could whip the stick hard.
2012-11-11 04:40:36 AM
1 votes:
It's one of those legal things, whereby the "cause" of the accident is not the cause of the accident.

In this case, the actual cause of the accident--the first action in the chain of events that culminated in the helicopter striking the ground--was the little girl's foot contacting the collective (or whatever control it was). Like it or not, that's what started the whole mess, what law students are taught to call the "but-for" cause: "But-for" her foot striking that control, none of this would have happened.

Now, does that mean she's RESPONSIBLE for the accident in the moral or ethical sense, or legally responsible as in she intentionally or negligently caused it? Of course not. Is her dad? Of course not. It's an accident. Nobody could have foreseen such an awful chain of events, even in hindsight. I mean, I SUPPOSE you could have seen that a little girl who normally sits still in daddy's lap on a short chopper flight and whose feet are normally far away from the controls MIGHT have kicked out at them in such a way as to cause an abnormal movement in the craft and the pilot would have overcorrected...and so it goes.

But in the NTSB's report, where they have to write in "What is the cause of the accident?" the answer is "girl's foot contacting surface of control panel" since that's what began the chain of events. In a very objective and non-judgemental fashion. To everyone but the survivors' attorneys who needed an "undetermined" or "mechanical" cause to continue their lawsuit against the helicopter manufacturers, but you can't please everyone.
2012-11-11 04:33:56 AM
1 votes:

Hector Remarkable: Oh, well. It's probably funny in non-linear time too. They're basically saying the little girl is responsible for five tragic deaths. It's just...ridiculous.


I took from that article they're doing what they always do, blame the pilot for anything they can.

In this case, he allowed an untrained, unlicensed operator to get behind the controls of an aircraft with his five year old daughter in his lap, unrestrained, and operate it.

The pilot is ultimately responsible for five deaths. The little girl just helped.
2012-11-11 04:28:38 AM
1 votes:

Hector Remarkable: BronyMedic: Hector Remarkable: ElizaDoolittle: Hector Remarkable: The way I read the NTSB report, it seems to me this 5 year-old girl was probably plotting this for months, if not years. She was obviously a murderous, callous little girl who got tired of torturing garden ducks and was moving on to the big time. It's all in the report. She had mapped out the plan in crayon - a "slip" of the sippy cup and then - jump, bam, kill them all. Oh, she was a heinous sort. With her little kiddie plot for murther and her devious after-plan to ruin EuroCopter. Ah-ha-ha-ha! Ah-ha-ha-ha! She's laughing at us all now. From Hell.

I know this is meant to be satire. Fail.

Well, more mockery I'd say, but everyone's a critic.

Too soon, man. Too soon. You gotta wait 22.5 years, then it's funny.

Oh, well. It's probably funny in non-linear time too. They're basically saying the little girl is responsible for five tragic deaths. It's just...ridiculous.


She was probably just as aware as Mrs. O'Leary's cow.

/and just as guilty
//that's why it's called an accident
2012-11-11 04:16:37 AM
1 votes:

Lsherm: ElizaDoolittle: Ouch. I guess your friend was beyond caring, if that's any consolation. Did the funeral home charge extra for the weights? I'll bet they did.

And just for the record: way to be a dick, asshole.


That was not my intention. I don't like the way funeral "homes" rip off people, but I never intended to be mean to you. I apologize.
2012-11-11 04:02:34 AM
1 votes:

davidphogan:
Not every religion allows cremation. I'd assume the weights are there for a symbolic reason.


They're there to give the pallbearers some form of comfort. If the coffin is unnaturally light combined with a closed casket, they're going to know that person died really, really horrifically.
2012-11-11 03:46:02 AM
1 votes:

Lsherm: Another uncomfortable thing I learned about that plane crash: they put lead or steel weights in the coffin to fake the weight of a burned corpse. When we lifted his coffin at the funeral one of them fell over and the funeral director told me afterward that the bump I head was probably that.


If I die and there's no body, I will haunt anyone who puts a coffin there.

I don't get that. My grandpa was cremated. He's in an urn. At the funeral, we had the urn and a picture. A full on coffin with weights in to fake a body seems silly.
2012-11-11 03:36:08 AM
1 votes:
So kinda like this but with the tail instead.
2012-11-11 12:59:03 AM
1 votes:

Bathia_Mapes: The blame should really go to her father for allowing her to be on his lap while flying the helicopter.


Agreed, but the NTSB is in the uncomfortable position of finding causes for a crash. My best friend was an airline pilot and died in a crash in 2004, and absent any mechanical failure they blamed the crash on him and his co-pilot because they were talking about things besides landing the plane under 10,000 feet on approach. They literally tried to land the plane 3 miles early. NTSB took a year and came up with "pilot error" because there wasn't any other reasonable explanation.

It took me a long time to come to terms with it. My friend wasn't an idiot. Neither was his co-pilot. The weather was bad, so I figured the altimeter has malfunctioned and they thought they were higher than they were. But after reading the report, there were two altimeters, and they missed/ignored the readings during descent. Either they were running visual, or they were mistaken about where they were. It was a commuter plane (11 people died) and it didn't have a low altitude warning system because it wasn't required at the time. Of course, after that crash the low altitude warning became mandatory.

The NTSB is very thorough - they interviewed me for the report because I had been out with him for dinner two days before the crash. They wanted to know if he could have been drunk/high during the flight because his body was so badly burned they couldn't test it. I let them know for the ten years he was flying he wouldn't drink if he had to fly to next day, because rules were rules. He was better than good about it - FAA rules were his bible.

Another uncomfortable thing I learned about that plane crash: they put lead or steel weights in the coffin to fake the weight of a burned corpse. When we lifted his coffin at the funeral one of them fell over and the funeral director told me afterward that the bump I head was probably that. My friend weighed 225 lbs alive, but the funeral director told me he had less than 60 lbs of material to work with when the body came in. Obviously, open coffin wasn't an option.
2012-11-11 12:56:27 AM
1 votes:

quatchi: [i0.kym-cdn.com image 500x375]

Disaster girl is getting a real innocent kick out of this thread.


That took way too long to show up.
2012-11-11 12:21:44 AM
1 votes:
i0.kym-cdn.com

Disaster girl is getting a real innocent kick out of this thread.
2012-11-10 08:05:07 PM
1 votes:
"Despite this length of time, there are many questions that remain unanswered, not the least of which is that the NTSB's conclusion is at odds with every single eyewitness," it said. Also, the statement said, "the conclusion is wholly inconsistent with the way Rick Morton commanded the helicopter and the respect Tom Stewart gave his pilots in the cockpit."

From the report:

A ranch foreman who observed the flight preparations saw the helicopter owner board the helicopter through the left forward cockpit door and occupy the left front cockpit seat. The helicopter owner's 5-year old daughter also boarded the helicopter through the left forward cockpit door and sat on her father's lap. ... Operator personnel revealed that the helicopter owner's daughter had sat on her father's lap occasionally during flights, that the owner liked to fly the helicopter, and that it was common for him to fly.

Sounds kind of consistent with witness reports to me. Letting a kid sit in your lap when there's also a collective stick between your legs shows something of a wanton disregard for safety on the case of the owner, and a lack of willingness on the part of the pilot to tell the boss what wasn't okay to do.
 
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