NTSB eyes engine in SkyEye HD crash

October 14, 2008 9:28:45 PM PDT
Investigators spent the day at the crash scene near FM 1488 and People's Road, trying to determine what sent SkyEye 13 crashing out of the sky Monday morning.There are approximately two minutes between the time the last images were sent to KTRK from SkyEye 13 and the time first 911 call came in to dispatchers. It's up to investigators now to figure out what happened in those two minutes. They're hoping to get the answers by going over every component of the aircraft.

As the wreckage was pulled out from the crash site on its way for further testing, the National Transportation Safety Board revealed what it has learned about the tragic crash which killed pilot John Downhower and photographer/reporter Dave Garrett.

"We've examined the helicopter, and we're satisfied that the helicopter was intact at impact when it started hitting the trees," said NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Arnold Scott.

After examining the scene, investigators say they have identified what appeared to be issues within the helicopter's engine, although nothing has been confirmed.

Scott said, "We're having the engine manufacturer, Rolls Royce, ship down a shipping container, and we'll ship the engine back to Indianapolis, where it will be disassembled and examined."

The NTSB is also looking at the angle of the crash. Based on their observation, they've determined the helicopter came down at a 70 degree angle. Investigators also looked at the parts of the aircraft which handle controllability in the air.

"We've examined the servos and the pitch and collective linkages," Scott explained. "They are all attached, so we don't, at this point, see a flight control problem."

The NTSB hopes to examine the engine within the next two months, and have a report complete within five months.

In the meantime, grief continues to mount. One pilot, who never met the victims, stopped near the crash scene to offer flowers and give a prayer. She couldn't muster the strength to speak on camera, but offered a hug.

The aircraft will be taken to a salvage yard in Fort Worth for examination.

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