Update: Fog was a factor in deadly December helicopter crash

Louisiana

LAPLACE, La. (WGNO)— The National Transportation Safety Board released more information on the helicopter crash that killed pilot Joshua L. Hawley on December 14, 2021.

According to reports, the helicopter departed the Gonzales, Louisiana, area and was en route to the Lakefront Airport (KNEW), New Orleans, Louisiana.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS–B) data tracked the helicopter’s flight path as it flew
along I-10 towards New Orleans.

The helicopter’s altitude ranged from 70 to 175 feet.

NTSB reported about 0.88 miles from the accident site, the helicopter descended to 50 ft AGL Hawley continued to fly down I-10.

The helicopter then collided with the western guy wire suspended between two tall trusses which were about 130 feet above the bridge.

The safety board reported that several commercial vehicles dashcams captured the helicopter’s descent and impact.

Video showed that the helicopter’s main rotor blades, mast, and transmission separated from the fuselage and were located in Lake Pontchartrain.”

Following the accident, a United States Coast Guard helicopter was launched to the scene to
provide search and rescue support.

The USCG pilot reported that the weather was visual flight rules (VFR) at Louis Armstrong International Airport (KMSY), New Orleans, Louisiana, but deteriorated to marginal VFR to instrument flight conditions to the west.

The low-level fog allowed the stanchions of the power lines to be barely visible from the east. However, from the west, the fog layer was above the power lines with high cloud layers that reached about 1,200 ft. From a top-down view, there was very dense fog from all areas with a tall column of clouds to the west
of the power line intersection where the accident occurred. They were able to orbit overhead.

With good visibility at 500 ft over the shoreline, but at landfall to the west, a wall of clouds built
to 1,200 ft.

All the major components of the helicopter were located at the accident site. The helicopter was
recovered to a secure facility for further examination.


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