Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Eurocopter AS 350B3 Ecureuil, N74317, Native Air Ambulance: Fatal accident occurred December 15, 2015 in Superior, Pinal County, Arizona

AIR METHODS CORP: http://registry.faa.gov/N74317 

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA040 
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Tuesday, December 15, 2015 in Superior, AZ
Aircraft: AIRBUS Helicopters AS350, registration: N74317
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 15, 2015, about 1723 mountain standard time, an Airbus helicopter, AS350B3, N74317, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near Superior, Arizona. The helicopter air ambulance (HAA) was registered to Air Methods Corporation and was doing business as Native Air Ambulance, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. The commercial pilot, and flight nurse sustained fatal injuries and the flight paramedic sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan was filed for the flight. The cross-country positioning flight originated from the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (IWA), Mesa, Arizona, at 1705 with an intended destination of Globe, Arizona.

According to the operator, the helicopter had transported a patient from the Cobre Valley Community Hospital, Globe, Arizona to the Baywood Heart Hospital, in Mesa, Arizona. The flight originated from their base in Globe, Arizona with a planned return to their base at the conclusion of the operation. After transporting the patient, the helicopter was repositioned to IWA for refueling. It subsequently departed IWA for the return flight to its base in Globe. The flight was being tracked by satellite at the company's national communication center, AIRCOM, in Omaha, Nebraska. The company's operations control center (OCC), located in Denver, Colorado, was monitoring the flight on their Flight Management System. At 1723 mountain standard time, satellite tracking of the helicopter was lost. AIRCOM notified the OCC and a search was conducted by a company aircraft. The wreckage was located as a result of an aerial search at about 2054.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the helicopter impacted mountainous terrain about 10 miles north-northwest of Superior, Arizona. All major structural components of the helicopter were located within the wreckage debris path, which was about 380 feet in length, and oriented on a heading of about 200 degrees magnetic. The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Scottsdale FSDO-07


Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.



David Schneider.






The bodies of two men who died after their air-ambulance crashed into snow-covered terrain in the Superstition Mountains Tuesday night were retrieved Wednesday, according to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

Though it is still unclear what caused the crash, details emerging from the scene Tuesday night paint a picture of a harrowing situation. The injured, lone survivor of the crash had worked to save a dying colleague before using a flashlight to successfully attract the attention of emergency personnel searching for the helicopter, authorities said Wednesday.

Native Air Ambulance medic Derek Boehm, 38, of Gilbert, was critically injured in the crash that claimed the lives of pilot David Schneider, 51, of Gilbert, and flight nurse Chad Frary, 38, of Mesa, the Sheriff's Office said.

The area where the crash occurred, about 20 miles east of Apache Junction and north of Superior, is so difficult to reach that it took a military helicopter to rescue Boehm, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said.

The Native Air chopper was reported missing at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Crews found the copter's wreckage 2 1/2 hours later and rescued Boehm from the mountainside shortly after 10 p.m.

"It's surprising that there was a survivor, and we are grateful for that,"  Babeu said Wednesday morning.

The aircraft was traveling from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport to Globe when it crashed. No patients were on the flight.

Babeu said Boehm signaled to rescue teams using a flashlight and was taken to Maricopa Medical Center in very serious condition. Boehm was listed in fair condition on Thursday afternoon.

One of the victims who died initially showed signs of life after the crash, Babeu said. Boehm attempted lifesaving measures, but the man died before rescue teams could reach the scene, the sheriff said.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said authorities aren't yet sure why the helicopter crashed.

Air Methods, which owns the company operating the aircraft, said the helicopter was an Airbus AS350 B3.

According to the Airbus company website, the almost 5-ton, single-engine helicopter can reach speeds of more than 150 mph. It can hold a pilot and five to six passengers and is favored for law enforcement, medical services and civilian use.

"We are deeply saddened by the news that two of our crew members were taken from us, and our hearts go out to their family and loved ones," Air Methods spokeswoman Christina Brodsly said Wednesday.

The victims

Globe Fire Chief Al Gameros said that one of the crew members killed in the crash was a well-known "outgoing and positive" presence in the city who would often participate in fundraisers and other events.

"It hits hard," Gameros said. "We would interface with them all of the time. I'm shocked to hear of what transpired. It's just a horrible tragedy and we're having a hard time dealing with it."

One of the victims, Frary, had previously been an emergency-room nurse at the Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center in Globe. His former colleagues described Frary as dedicated and modest.

"I'll miss him," said Dr. Peter Michalak, who worked with Frary for 10 years. "He was a friendly guy who never got into anyone's way. He tried to help people, and he always gave good care to his patients."

Michalak said he was visiting with Frary, of Mesa, mere hours before the fatal crash. Some in the emergency room cried after hearing of Frary's death.

Sandra Wills, of Globe, said Frary treated her son, Seth Franco, in the emergency room at Cobre Valley after he was accidentally shot in the head three years ago. The grateful family made a point to visit Frary each Dec. 13, the anniversary of the accident.

They were unable to connect this year, she said.

"Chad put together fundraisers and all kind of stuff," Wills said. "If it wasn't for him, I don't know what I would have done."

The lone survivor

Jenna Camberlango, a flight paramedic based in Chinle, was on her way to her shift Tuesday evening when she began receiving a barrage of phone calls and text messages. There was a chopper down in the Superstitions, they told her.

"My chest tightened up and I just started crying," she said. "I didn't even know who was on shift or what aircraft it was... it's so close that it's just like it happening to us or our friends or our brothers."

Then Camberlango found out that one of the men on board was Derek Boehm, a friend and former coworker from when they both were based at Florence Hospital in Anthem.

"It stung bad," she said. Boehm had always been an example, the one his fellow paramedics picked when they chose -- hypothetically -- who they would want to work on them.

"His demeanor is completely kind and gentle, and when something happens he can spring into action and get it done," Camberlango said. "You just know everything's going to be OK when Derek's around. He never panics. He's always positive."

By then, news was trickling through the tight-knit emergency-medical-services community that Boehm had been the lone survivor. ("Derek has friends all across Arizona from the top all the way to the bottom," Camberlango said.") She began sending out silent prayers for her friend, whom she described as a "a family man" who doted on his young daughter.

When she heard that Boehm had tried to give medical assistance to one of his fallen crew mates, Camberlango was not surprised.

"That's true Derek fashion," she said. "He's a Marine and I'm sure he didn't think about himself until his partner died."

On Wednesday, Camberlango and another friend started a GoFundMe account for Boehm to collect donations to help his family with costs during his recovery. By Thursday afternoon, it had raised more than $9,000.

"It's all of our nightmare, the one thing that we don't want to happen," Camberlango said. "We train for everyone else's emergency and we're always ready and willing and prepared and when planning doesn't work we always have a plan B. (But the air-ambulance crash) is a situation that we don't like to think about. It's a nightmare."

Investigating the crash

Gregor said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the deadly crash. An FAA safety inspector was en route to the crash site.

Gregor added that the Safety Board will lead the investigation and that the agency likely would take months, if not longer, to determine the cause of the crash.

"It's just a real human tragedy," said Gary Robb, a Kansas City, Mo.-based aviation-crash attorney. "They're all too frequent."

Robb has handled aviation crashes for more than 30 years and said the NTSB's investigations are very thorough and typically last 12 to 18 months.

He said investigators usually look at three primary factors: human, mechanical and environmental.

Investigators check the pilot for training and impairment, Robb said. They inspect the mechanical records and the condition of the aircraft and analyze the environment at the time of the crash.

Rugged, mountainous terrain, dark nights and foggy, cold weather could all be factors that lead to an "unintended flight into ground" crash, he said.

Air Methods Corp., headquartered in Englewood, Colo., provides air-medical transport and other flight services, including tourism operations. It also designs, makes and installs medical spaces and structures for aircraft interiors.

Patient transport and related medical-flight services represent nearly 75 percent of the company’s revenue, with tourism and charter services most of the rest. The company provides tourism operations in and around the Grand Canyon and Hawaiian Islands.

The company has been consistently profitable in recent quarters, earning $108 million, or $2.73 a share, on revenue of $1.06 billion over its past four quarters. Its shares, which trade in the stock market under the symbol AIRM, are worth about $1.7 billion combined.

In the normal course of business, Air Methods said, it faces legal claims resulting from helicopter accidents, billing-reimbursement disputes, employee-relations issues and claims alleging negligent medical care and transport.


“To date, no claims of these types of litigation, certain of which are covered by insurance policies, have had a material effect on us,” the company said in its annual 10K investor report filed earlier this year.


Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu


SUPERIOR, AZ - Two people who were killed when a Native Air medical transport helicopter crashed late Tuesday within the Superstition Mountains have been identified. 

The company issued a statement Wednesday morning and the Pinal County Sheriff's Office confirmed 51-year-old pilot David Schneider, of Gilbert, and 38-year-old flight nurse Chad Frary, of Mesa, died in the crash.

A third crew member, paramedic Derek Boehm, survived the crash and is now listed in fair condition, according to Air Methods spokeswoman Christina Brodsly.

"We are deeply saddened by the news that two of our crew members were taken from us, and our hearts go out to their family and loved ones," the company said in a statement released Wednesday morning.

Pinal County Sheriff's officials said the Airbus AS 350 B3 aircraft was on its way to Globe, Ariz. from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport when it crashed. Sheriff Paul Babeu said the aircraft is located in a remote area and rugged terrain on the mountain that is difficult to access.

Investigators, including Identification Technicians and the National Transportation Safety Board, are on scene.

A general timeline of the incident was also released, although the cause of the crash is still under investigation.

6 p.m.: The Native Air aircraft is reported missing by the company.

7:30 p.m.: Air Methods contacted PCSO wondering if its office had received any reports of a downed aircraft. PCSO had not received any reports at that time.

8:18 p.m.: The Department of Public Safety contacted PCSO saying it had been contacted by Air Methods related to a missing aircraft.

8:27 p.m.: Two Native Air aircrafts sent out to look for the helicopter located the crash site, but were unable to land due to the rough terrain.

9 p.m.: A DPS aircraft located the crash site and found the lone survivor signaling to them with a "flashlight-type device," said Sheriff Paul Babeu. Due to the terrain, the aircraft was unable to land.

10:15 p.m.: The survivor was picked up and removed from the area by a military aircraft and taken to the hospital.

Officials said no patients were onboard.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been contacted, according to Babeu, but was not yet on scene.

"This is a tragedy," he said.

Story, comments and video:  http://www.abc15.com




A medical helicopter crashed in rugged terrain east of Phoenix, killing two crew members and seriously injuring a paramedic who tried unsuccessfully to save the life of another victim, a sheriff said Wednesday. 

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said the helicopter crashed Tuesday evening on a mountainside about 12 miles north of Superior, a mining community outside Phoenix. An Air Force helicopter rescued the survivor, who had used a flashlight to signal at a search aircraft, about 10:15 p.m., roughly four hours after the craft went down on a snowy, tree-covered slope.


The fuselage was largely intact, but other parts of the chopper were strewn about it.


One of the victims initially had signs of life and the paramedic tried to provide life-saving care, Babeu said.


"It was not successful — a tragic situation," he said.


The Sheriff's Office and Air Methods, which owns the company operating the aircraft, identified those killed as pilot David Schneider, 51, of Gilbert, and flight nurse Chad Frary, 38, of Mesa. The surviving paramedic is Derek Boehm, 38, of Gilbert.


No patients were on board, said Air Methods spokeswoman Christina D. Brodsly.


Boehm is hospitalized in fair condition, the sheriff's office said.


Babeu said the helicopter was returning to Globe from a Mesa airport.


An aerial search began after the helicopter was reported missing around 6 p.m., Babeu said. The sheriff said he did not know about radio transmission from the aircraft before it went down or any report from the public about a crash in the Tonto National Forest.


A Native Air helicopter first spotted the wreckage at about 8:30 p.m. and an Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter located it about a half-hour later, but neither was able to land because of rugged terrain, Babeu said.


"From what I understand it's in a precarious situation," he said of the crashed helicopter.


The DPS helicopter crew saw the survivor signaling with a flashlight, Babeu said.


National Weather Service meteorologist James Sawtelle in Phoenix said temperatures on ridges in the area were in the low 30s when the helicopter crashed and fell to the high 20s by the time the survivor was rescued.


The crash scene was sealed off overnight to preserve evidence. Investigators, including at least one from the National Transportation Board Safety, arrived at the scene Wednesday 


Source:  http://abcnews.go.com





 An air ambulance company Wednesday released the names of three crew members aboard a medical helicopter that crashed in the Superstition Mountains, killing two and injuring the third.

Air Methods spokeswoman Christina Brodsly confirmed that the pilot, 51-year-old David Schneider of Gilbert, and flight nurse Chad Frary, 38, of  Mesa, perished in Tuesday night's crash.

A medic, Derek Boehm, also 38, of  Gilbert, survived with serious injuries.

Earlier, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said Boehm had been transported to a trauma center in metro Phoenix.

By noon, Brodsly said Boehm was listed in fair condition.

The area where the crash occurred, about 20 miles east of Apache Junction and south of Superior, is so rugged that it took a military helicopter to extract Boehm, Babeu said.

The aircraft was reported missing at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Crews found the copter's wreckage 2 1/2 hours later and rescued the lone survivor from the mountainside shortly after 10 p.m.

"It's surprising that there was a survivor, and we are grateful for that,"  Babeu said Wednesday morning, citing the rugged terrain at the crash scene and snowy conditions.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the helicopter crashed under unknown circumstances.

The aircraft was a Native Air ambulance helicopter and was traveling from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport to Globe when it crashed in a remote part of the Superstitions, said Mark Clark, a PCSO spokesman.

No patients were on the flight.

One of the deceased victims initially showed signs of life after the crash, Babeu added. Boehm attempted lifesaving measures, but the man died before rescue teams could reach the scene, the sheriff said.

Air Methods, which owns the company operating the aircraft, said the helicopter was an Airbus AS305 B3.

According to the Airbus company website, the almost 5-ton, single-engine helicopter can reach speeds of over 150 mph. It can hold a pilot and five to six passengers and is favored for law enforcement, medical services and civilian use.

"We are deeply saddened by the news that two of our crew members were taken from us, and our hearts go out to their family and loved ones," Brodsly said Wednesday.

Globe Fire Chief Al Gameros said that one of the crew members killed in the crash was a well-known "outgoing and positive" presence in the city who'd often participate in fundraisers and other events.

"It hits hard. We would interface with them all of the time," Gameros said. "I'm shocked to hear of what transpired. It's just a horrible tragedy and we're having a hard time dealing with it."

Gregor said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the deadly crash. An FAA safety inspector was en route to the crash site.

Gregor added that the Safety Board will lead the investigation and that the agency likely would take months, if not longer, to determine the cause of the incident.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety was first notified of the crash at about 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to a DPS spokesman. The agency was asked to be part of a search-and-rescue mission.

"It's just a real human tragedy," said Gary Robb, a Kansas City, Mo.-based aviation-crash attorney. "They're all too frequent."

Robb has handled aviation crashes for more than 30 years and said the NTSB's investigations are very thorough and typically last 12 to 18 months.

He said investigators usually look at three primary factors: human, machine and environment.

They check the pilot for training and impairment, Robb said. They inspect the mechanical records and condition of the aircraft and analyze the environment at the time of the crash.

Rugged, mountainous terrain, dark nights and foggy, cold weather could all be factors that lead to an "unintended flight into ground" crash, he said.

Air Methods Corp., headquartered in Englewood, Colo., provides air-medical transport and other flight services, including tourism operations. It also designs, makes and installs medical spaces and structures for aircraft interiors.

Patient transport and related medical flight services represent nearly 75 percent of the company’s revenue, with tourism and charter services most of the rest. The company provides tourism operations in and around the Grand Canyon and Hawaiian Islands.

The company has been consistently profitable in recent quarters, earning $108 million or $2.73 a share on revenue of $1.06 billion over its past four quarters. Its shares, which trade in the stock market under the symbol AIRM, are worth about $1.7 billion combined.

In the normal course of business, Air Methods said, it faces legal claims resulting from helicopter accidents, billing-reimbursement disputes, employee-relations issues and claims alleging negligent medical care and transport.

“To date, no claims of these types of litigation, certain of which are covered by insurance policies, have had a material effect on us,” the company said in its annual 10K investor report filed earlier this year.

Source: http://www.azcentral.com

SUPERIOR, AZ (KPHO/KTVK) -   Two people are dead and a third is in very serious condition after a medical helicopter crashed north of Superior Tuesday night.

According to officials, the helicopter crashed in very rugged terrain in the Superstition Mountains.

Air Methods, which owns the helicopter, confirmed that two crew members had died and one crew member was "safe."

In a media briefing Wednesday morning, Sheriff Paul Babeu said the survivor was taken to a trauma center in Phoenix and is listed in very serious condition.

No identities have been released at this time.

The helicopter was returning to Globe from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport when it crashed about 12 miles north of Superior. There were no patients on board the aircraft.

"We are deeply saddened by the news that two of our crew members were taken from us, and our hearts go out to their family and loved ones," Air Methods spokeswoman Christina Brodsly said in a statement released early Wednesday morning.

Before 10 p.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor reported there were three people aboard the Airbus AS350 B3 when it went down. The aircraft had been reported missing around 6 p.m.

Babeu said the survivor signaled rescue crews with a "flashlight device."

He said the helicopter is in a precarious situation and crews were working to stabilize it and secure the scene.

There is no word on what caused the crash.

Air Methods issued the following statement Tuesday night: 

"Native Air (Ambulance) reported that an accident involving an AS350 B3 occurred Tuesday, Dec. 15 near Apache Junction. At this time we can confirm that three crew members - pilot, flight paramedic and flight nurse - were on-board the aircraft. The FAA and the NTSB have our full cooperation as they further investigate the accident. We want to continue to make sure we have all of the facts correct. We will be back in touch with you once we have more information." 

Story and video:  http://www.ksla.com
 

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