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NTSB Chief: Doors-off Helo Flight Was 'Death Trap'In language that was uncharacteristically blunt and direct, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman Robert Sumwalt accused the doors-off photo tour company NYONair, parent of FlyNYON, of turning “a perfectly good helicopter into a death trap” and characterizing it as “madness.” Sumwalt praised the airmanship of accident pilot Richard Vance. (www.ainonline.com) More...
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Nice to see there are a few adults left in Washington. Bravo NTSB.
The biggest problem with doors-off flight in helicopters is objects leaving the cabin and damaging the tail rotor, not egress in case of water landing. Of all the factors leading to this tragedy mentioned in the NTSB report, the design of the AS350's fuel shutoff system should have received headline billing.
>Doors Off< was not the problem here...
Uh, no. The fuel shutoff has operated just fine over the life of the helicopter. If you read the article, you see the operator installed passenger harnesses that dragged over the fuel lever. That is the problem.
There are so many action scenes where SWAT/military are hanging out of helicopter doors that this seems to be a perfectly good way to get a better view of the ground and surrounding area. What people don't realize is that those folks have hours and hours of training to do that. The placement of the fuel shutoff system within reach of the untrained passengers was a huge design flaw. You wouldn't place a duplicate car gas petal in the back seat.