Terrible aviation accident close to home. One of the two Life Flight helicopters operated by Duke University Health Systems crashed this morning in a remote part of eastern North Carolina. Mild temperatures, skies clear and a million. What happened to this Eurocopter EC145? Fuel exhaustion?
Each helicopter – both Eurocopter EC145s – can travel at about 150 mph and cover all of North Carolina and parts of South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. A typical flight includes two critical care providers, a pilot and a single patient. Team members work rotating 12-hour shifts.
Avery confirmed that the one that crashed bore the tail number N146DU. An FAA database indicates the twin-engined craft was manufactured in 2011.
UPDATE: Sept. 23, 2017
The NTSB preliminary report came out a few days ago. The chopper had plenty of fuel-it looks like there was an engine problem. Several witnesses reported seeing smoke trailing behind the airship, and the inspectors made the following notes about the engine:
The outboard 4 ft of No. 1 (yellow) blade came to rest in the 8 ft tall grassadjacent to the drainage path. The grass on either side of the blade was undisturbed. The tail rotor shaft remained attached to the transmission. The transmission could not be rotated by hand.No foreign object damage was found on the axial compressor blades of either engine. No damage was observed on the visible portions of the turbine blades at the rear of either engine. The gas generator of the No. 1 engine moved freely when rotated by hand, the No. 2 engine gasgenerator would not rotate. The No. 1 engine fuel shutoff valve was found in the open position. The No. 2 engine fuel shutoff valve was damaged and its position could not be determined during the field examination. The No. 2 engine rear turbine shaft bearing exhibited discoloration consistent with overheating and lack of lubrication. The bearing roller pins were worn down to the surface of the bearing race. The end of the turbine shaft aft of the nut exhibited rotational nonuniform damage.