Law Enforcement

NTSB: Georgia Police Chopper Hit Powerline Before Crashing Into River

By Dan Parsons | November 30, 2018
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Bell JetRanger of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department

A Georgia law enforcement OH-58C struck a powerline before plummeting to the Coosa River in Alabama Nov. 16, Killing a veteran pilot and his student passenger, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Metro Narcotics Task Force OH-58, built by Bell and manufactured in 1970, out of Columbus, Georgia, crashed with two people on board Nov. 16.

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The aircraft hit a powerline and plummeted into the Coosa River, near Clanton, Alabama. Both the commercial pilot and student pilot were killed. The aircraft was owned by the Columbus Georgia Police Department.

The flight originated from Columbus Airport at around 10:25 a.m. local time, stopped at Auburn Univeristy Regional Airport and then continued on, according to the report.

Witnesses saw the aircraft approach the river from the east and north over its path, “flying low.” It made a left turn and continued southward over the river when an observer saw the aircraft “catch” the powerlines, turn and impact the water,” the report says.

“Another witness lost sight of the helicopter before hearing an explosion,” the report says. “Both witnesses saw the helicopter in the water and noted that the powerlines were no longer there.”

The four-seat helicopter was manufactured in 1970 and powered by a Rolls-Royce/Allison M250, 250-horsepower turboshaft engine.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land, instrument airplane, rotorcraft-helicopter, and remote pilot, according to the report. The pilot applied for BasicMed privileges on August 9, 2017. At that time, he reported 765 total flight hours.

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