Retired baseball pitcher Roy Halladay died yesterday in his brand-new Icon A5. The Icon A5 is a light sport plane, although Halladay apparently was a full private pilot. He received his training and license in 2014, after he retired from baseball.
The A5 has a number of safety-minded features, including an angle-of-attack indicator, a Ballistic Recovery Systems parachute, and control elements apparently designed to create benign stalling characteristics. When the model was first introduced, there were other, more controversial features, including mandatory cockpit audio and video recording. After consumer outcry, those requirements were dropped. One requirement not dropped was an agreement to hold the manufacturer blameless in the event of an accident (i.e., no lawsuits).
The Icon was being marketed to the non-aviation community as an airborne version of motorized vehicles just as jet skis, ATVs, and motorcycles. In other words, as just another toy for thrill seekers.
As for the accident, of which there are few details, all the warning signs are present: rich guy with a competitive personality, newly certificated, with a fancy new airplane. It remains to be seen how the pilot came to crash a plane designed to be flown low and slow, with ample safety margins.
But then, what is slow for a normal airplane is very fast when you’re flying a “jet ski with wings,” just over the water.
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 grass
adjacent 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 gas
generator 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.
In this case, the pilot received a type rating on his newly purchased Citation just three weeks prior to the accident flight.
The National Transportation Safety Board released an initial report Thursday night that gives a timeline of the events leading up to the Dec. 29 plane crash over Lake Erie that killed 6.
Source: NTSB releases preliminary report on Lake Erie plane crash that killed 6 | cleveland.com
NTSB preliminary report