NTSB Wants Terrain Warning For Helicopter Crews

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The NTSB on Tuesday asked the FAA to require turbine-powered helicopters that carry six or more passengers to be equipped with a terrain awareness and warning system. "It is well past time for the benefits from these standard safety devices to be made available to passengers on helicopter transports as they are on fixed-wing planes," said NTSB Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker. "More than 2 million passengers are carried on Gulf of Mexico oil industry operations alone." The recommendation is part of the NTSB's final report of a fatal helicopter accident in the Gulf of Mexico in March 2004. An Era Aviation Sikorsky S-76A++ crashed about 7:18 p.m., 70 nautical miles offshore of Texas. Although visual meteorological conditions existed, it was a dark night with very few external visual cues. The helicopter, with two crew, was carrying eight workers to an oil rig. All on board died in the crash. The safety board determined that the probable cause of the accident was the flight crew's failure to identify and arrest the helicopter's descent for undetermined reasons, which resulted in controlled flight into the water. "A terrain warning system would have given the pilots enough time to arrest their descent and save the lives of all aboard," Rosenker said.