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UPDATE: NTSB issues preliminary report in December copter crash

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Posted at 1:53 PM, Jan 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-15 14:55:49-05

UPDATE: The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) has issued its preliminary report in the ongoing investigation of a fatal December crash in the Gulf of Mexico.

The helicopter was reported overdue after it did not land as expected on a platform in the Gulf southeast of Grand Isle. After searching for the pilot and passenger onboard for several days, the Coast Guard suspended its search. The Coast Guard said at the time that their crews searched more than 4,117 square-nautical miles for approximately 68 hours but were unable to find the passengers.

As is its practice, the NTSB report contains only facts. The final report is not expected for at least a year. You can read the report by scrolling down.

The report states that the helicopter departed an oil platform about 8:30 a.m. headed to another platform about 17 nautical miles away. The pilot was to conduct "pollution control inspections" during the trip. He stopped on a platform to fuel up, but found the fuel nozzle was broken. The chopper left the platform with about 1 hour, 20 minutes of fuel, headed for another platform about 20 minutes away. The pilot called his target platform at about 9:10 a.m. to tell them he was about 10 minutes away. When he hadn't arrived within an hour, he was reported as overdue, the report states.

The Coast Guard recovered several pieces of small debris from helicopter, the report states. The main wreckage location was found about 25 miles away during a sonar search, the report states. The weather was bad, so the location was marked while officials waited for the weather to clear. A shrimp boat accidentally caught some of the wreckage in its nets and dragged it about three miles. A dive company found it again, and the wreckage - which included most of the helicopter - was brought up for investigators to examine.

Here's the report: