Report: Helicopter in deadly Phoenix-area crash had history of trouble
PHOENIX — The helicopter that was involved in a fatal crash earlier this month outside of Phoenix had a history of trouble.
The April 16 flight aimed to “evaluate developmental main rotor blades that had been installed on the helicopter,” the preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board found.
Instead, the helicopter went down in a farm field at Fort McDowell Indian Reservation, near Fountain Hills.
Rucie Moore, a contract experimental test pilot and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University professor, and engineer Stephen Estes were killed in the crash.
The Bell 206 had enough fuel for two flight legs before the accident, the report found.
“The test flight legs consisted of multiple autorotations at maximum gross weight involving a simulated loss of engine power,” the report read.
“The accident flight was the last test flight of the main rotor blades before the certification process.”
The helicopter was ultimately destroyed when it went down in the alfalfa field. A witness saw the helicopter falling from the sky and used her phone to record it crashing to the ground.
The wreckage site unveiled a post-crash fire and “impact damage consistent with a right side-down, nose-level attitude during ground impact.”
The debris field was about one mile long and 1,000 feet wide, “covering an area of wooded desert terrain and flood irrigated alfalfa fields.”