NTSB preliminary report releases more details on medical helicopter crash in Perry Co., MO

(Source: Justin Fischer, KFVS)
(Source: Justin Fischer, KFVS)
(Source: Justin Fischer, KFVS)
(Source: Justin Fischer, KFVS)
(Source: Jody Odem)
(Source: Jody Odem)
(Source: Jody Odem)
(Source: Jody Odem)

PERRY COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - An engine problem is reportedly to blame for a medical helicopter crash in Perry County, Missouri that sent five people, including a child, to the hospital.

It happened around 8:39 p.m. on Saturday, July 1.

According to Tony Molinaro with the Federal Aviation Administration, the MBB/Kawasaki BK 177 twin-engine helicopter had an engine problem.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Preliminary Report, the helicopter landed hard and rolled during the emergency landing.

The report stated that the helicopter was owned and operated by Air Methods Corporation, doing business as Kids Flight, as a medical flight. The flight originated from Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau and was en route to St. Louis Children's Hospital in St. Louis, Mo.

After 15 minutes of flight, the pilot said he scanned the instruments and gauges "noting that all systems were in the normal range and fuel was transferring from the main tank." He reported that the fuel level indication was about 95 gallons in the main tanks and the supply tanks were "just below the full indication," and that there were no illuminated lights on the warning/caution panel.

When they were about 5 miles north of Perryville, the pilot reported the helicopter "experienced a sharp change in attitude yawing to the left with a hard-upward bump," followed by a change in the engine noise. He said the N1 gauges both indicated below 40 percent and decreasing. The No. 1 engine low warning light, the No. 1 generator light, and the battery discharge warning lights were illuminated.

He reported, "suddenly the aircraft pitched nose up and rolled to the right. I could hear the rotor begin to deteriorate."

According to the preliminary report, he entered an autorotation by applying right forward cyclic and lowering the collective to full down.

During the descent, the pilot said he saw power lines and a ditch which required him to change the path to land on the far side of the ditch.

After everyone got out of the helicopter, the pilot reported he saw fuel draining in a solid stream from one of the drains on the belly of the helicopter. He re-entered the cockpit and turned off all electrical and fuel switches to minimize the risk of fire.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.

The aircraft landed on its left side in a bean field. A child and four crew members went to the hospital after the crash.

The Critical Care Transport Team has decided to temporarily suspend service to "allow members time to process what was certainly a scary situation for them."

In a statement, Christina Ward, an Air Methods spokesperson, said they are cooperating with officials during the investigation.

"We can confirm that there was a hard landing in Missouri involving a BK 117," she said. "Everyone is safe, which is always our top priority. We are working through the details at this time, as we want to continue to make sure we have all of the facts correct and not speculate. The officials have our full cooperation as they conduct a thorough investigation."

St. Louis Children's Hospital planned to use two new helicopters for its critical transport team but those plans were put on hold because of the crash.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, June 2, the St. Louis Children's Hospital Critical Care Transport Team announced there were no deaths in the incident and thanked the public for its support.

According to Corporal Juston Wheetley with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the helicopter went down on County Road 234 near Route C.

A 5-year-old was being taken to Children's Hospital in St. Louis when the helicopter crashed.

All five people on board were taken to Perry County Memorial Hospital with minor injuries.

The 5-year-old was be taken on to Children's Hospital by ambulance.

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