NTSB: Helicopter initiated unplanned turn - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

NTSB: Helicopter initiated unplanned turn

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NTSB senior investigator Hicks says a ground-based service that tracks helicopters' movements did provide NTSB with satellite tracking of the chopper, which tells investigators that the flight crew turned south, taking them off of their planned course. NTSB senior investigator Hicks says a ground-based service that tracks helicopters' movements did provide NTSB with satellite tracking of the chopper, which tells investigators that the flight crew turned south, taking them off of their planned course.
Charles Smith (left), Carrie Barlow (middle), and Denise Adams (right) were killed in a medical chopper crash Tuesday as they went to pick up a patient in Bolivar. Charles Smith (left), Carrie Barlow (middle), and Denise Adams (right) were killed in a medical chopper crash Tuesday as they went to pick up a patient in Bolivar.
SOMERVILLE, TN -

(WMC-TV) - NTSB investigators held their second and final news conference to provide updates on their investigation into the medical helicopter crash that killed all three people on board.

NTSB senior investigator Ralph Hicks said he spent his day documenting the scene, taking photos, and making sure each piece of the helicopter is accounted for.

"We've just about completed that phase. Right now, we are taking the wreckage and loading it onto a truck where it's going to be taken to the Nashville area where we'll be doing a more extensive evaluation and what we call a reconstruction of the wreckage."

During the reconstruction, the investigative team will lay out each part of the helicopter in a controlled setting. From there, they hope to be able to pinpoint where everything happened, from the fire damage to the impact damage.

Hicks says a ground-based service that tracks helicopters' movements did provide NTSB with satellite tracking of the chopper, which tells investigators that the flight crew turned south, taking them off of their planned course.

"Basically what that shows us right now, just looking at the initial first look, the helicopter was traveling eastbound towards Bolivar, at about 1,000 above sea level, at some point, close to the accident site here, we observed the helicopter in a light turn to a heading of about 146, it was initially on a heading of about 080, we don't know why the pilot initiated a turn other than the fact that we're still looking into that."

NTSB still has no indication about whether Hospital Wing pilot Charles Smith tried to send a message to air traffic control crews.

"We still don't have any indications of problems that were transmitted through air traffic control through any of the commercial based systems."

Investigators have made contact with about a dozen people who witnessed the crash.

"We've scheduled interviews with many of those," Hicks explained. "It's our preference to interview a witness where they were at the time of the accident so we're going to try to do that this afternoon."

Hicks said that the investigation is moving along without a hitch and the team is getting a lot done.

"We continue to keep looking. We're confident by the end of the investigation we will have looked at everything that's possible to look at," he added.

NTSB investigators will be at Hospital Wing headquarters Thursday reviewing pilot and maintenance records dating back to when the helicopter was manufactured in 2001.

A preliminary report should be released by NTSB in about one week.

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