The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says ice was the cause of the fatal medical chopper crash in Oklahoma City almost three years ago.
NTSB blames ice for the 2013 crash of EagleMed Eurocopter AS350B2 last February 22, 2013 in the parking lot of St. Ann’s Retirement Home near Britton and Rockwell. The medical chopper crashed at around 5:42 in the morning, killing its pilot, Mark Montgomery and nurse Chris Denning. Billy Wayne, a medic was seriously injured but managed to survive the crash.
The medical helicopter left Integris Baptist Medical Center to transport a cardiac patient in Watonga and go back to Oklahoma City.
NTSB’s report says the cause of the incident was “the loss of engine power due to engine ice ingestion during initial climb after takeoff in dark night light conditions.”
The agency also said that two factors could have caused the crash, “the lack of an installed engine air inlet cover while the helicopter was parked outside, exposed to precipitation and freezing temperatures before the accident, and the pilot’s inadequate preflight inspection that failed to detect ice accumulation in the area of the air inlet.”
The report added, the air intake of the chopper had been modified because a different engine was fitted to the helicopter. The NTSB said this made it possible for water or snow to accumulate in the intake which eventually turns into ice, and if left undetected, ice will sucked into the engine causing significant damage and loss of power.
The safety watchdog said that there was precipitation and the temperature was as low as 19 degrees 12 hours before the fatal incident. And during those times, the helicopter was parked outside and its air inlet was not covered.
The NTSB also said that the flight manual of the helicopter instructs pilots to check for ice in the inlet by looking and by touching, an instruction that the FAA and the manufacturer had issued too.
The NTSB further said that the lights of the helipad were off when the pilot was conducting his preflight inspection, making it hard for the pilot to detect any ice or snow in his chopper’s air inlet.