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NTSB report: FF equipment hit helo blade in fatal crash that killed 4 in Fla.

The report outlines how a recently installed water tank and snorkel for water drop exercises contributed to the crash

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Photo/Leesburg Fire Rescue

By Rachel Engel

LEESBURG, Fla. — A preliminary report regarding the fatal Black Hawk helicopter crash during a May training exercise shows the helicopter blades may have hit a piece of equipment that came off the aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration previously stated that the helicopter lost control of a bucket during a water drop exercise, causing the rotor section to separate.

However, the report from the NTSB said the helicopter had been outfitted with a new water tank and snorkel prior to the flight. The day of the crash was the helicopter’s first time in the air with the new equipment, Click Orland reported.

Witnesses from the scene support the report’s finding, with one employee of Brainerd Helicopters Inc./Firehawk Helicopters describing the snorkel as swinging “violently,” and said he heard a loud bang, believed to be the snorkel hitting the main rotor blades.

When witnesses on the ground realized the danger, they attempted to make contact with the pilot, but were unsuccessful.

The FAA and NTSB are continuing their investigation and will release a final report once concluded.