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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 132041
Last updated: 3 September 2021
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Date:30-JUN-1993
Time:10:35
Type:Silhouette image of generic B06 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Bell 206L-3 LongRanger III
Owner/operator:Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Registration: N911VC
MSN: 51172
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Category:Accident
Location:3 miles North of Agoura Hills, California -   United States of America
Phase: Standing
Nature:Fire fighting
Departure airport:Camraillo, California (CMA/KCMA)
Destination airport:3 miles North of Agoura Hills, California
Investigating agency: NTSB
Narrative:
On June 30, 1993, at 10:35 hours PDT (Pacific Daylight Time), a Bell 206L-3 helicopter, N911VC, was destroyed during a controlled burn operation, about 3 miles north of Agoura Hills, California. The helicopter was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) public use flight when the accident occurred. The helicopter, operated by the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, Ventura, California, was destroyed by a ground fire. The certificated commercial pilot received minor injuries. A non-certificated crew chief was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight originated from Camarillo, California, at 05:30 hours.

The crew reported that the helicopter was assisting ground fire units in a controlled burn of about 500 acres of grassland in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area. The aircraft was dispensing small plastic balls onto the grass from an aerial ignition device (AID) that was positioned at the rear door of the helicopter. All of the helicopter's doors were removed for the flight. After completing a dispersal pattern about 100 feet above the ground, the pilot selected a nearby un-burned hill for a landing.

Prior to leaving the burn area, the crew chief reported that he turned off the AID unit and cleared the mechanism of any ignition balls by rotating the mechanical operating knob on the right side of the unit. The pilot landed on the hill in about 3 foot high grass for a short break and positioned the engine throttle at flight idle. About 5 minutes later, the crew chief noticed flames on the ground on the right side of the aircraft. He exited the helicopter and attempted to extinguish the flames with a fire extinguisher and a jug of water. The ground fire quickly spread under and around the aircraft, and began curling into the interior. At the start of the fire, the crew chief and pilot both reported that they did not notice any fire in the interior of the helicopter.

The crew chief, while outside the aircraft, was unable to contain the fire and notified the pilot to take off. The pilot reported that he rolled the engine throttle toward the full open position; however, did not notice any immediate increase in engine power. The flames were beginning to burn the pilot, and both crew members made an emergency egress from the fire scene. The helicopter's engine and rotors continued to run.

A ground witness reported observing the helicopter land on the hill. About 5 minutes later, he noticed about an 8 foot diameter burn area under the helicopter with flames about 4 feet high. Other witnesses observed the flight crew evacuate the right side of the aircraft and called for another helicopter to respond to the accident scene.

Another helicopter (aircraft number 7) equipped with an aerial water tank was called to the scene and arrived within about 2 minutes. An aerial drop of water onto the fire scene that now measured about 20 by 20 feet, and the running helicopter, failed to extinguish the fire. The aerial tanker helicopter continued to make 5 to 6 aerial drops on the scene in about 1 minute intervals. The aircraft was subsequently destroyed by the ground fire.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at latitude 34 degrees 12.11 minutes north and longitude 118 degrees 44.39 minutes west. The helicopter (Ventura County aircraft number 4) was destroyed by the ground fire. The estimated value of the aircraft was 700,000 dollars. The brush fire at the accident site consumed about 10 acres of grassland before being contained by Ventura County and U.S. National Park Service fire fighters.

The NTSB determined the probable cause to be: The improper configuration of the aerial ignition device by the crew chief and an inadvertent activation of the unit by the pilot. The improper installation and configuration of the unit by maintenance personnel, inadequate crew co-ordination, and insufficient aviation unit operational standards were factors in this accident.

US Registration N911VC cancelled by the FAA on August 18 1993 as "Destroyed"

Sources:

1. NTSB Identification: LAX93GA270 at https://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief2.aspx?ev_id=20001211X12639&ntsbno=LAX93GA270&akey=1
2. FAA: http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/NNum_Results.aspx?omni=Home-N-Number&nNumberTxt=911VC


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
28-Aug-2016 17:10 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
21-Dec-2016 19:25 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]

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