Photo of Sikorsky S-76C++
Photo of Sikorsky S-76C++
Photo copyright Lockheed Martin - used with permission
Accident Perspectives:
Rotorcraft Life Cycle
  • Design / Manufacturing
  • Operational
  • Maintenance / Repair / Alteration
Accident ThreatsIndustries
  • Bird (BIRD)
  • Offshore
Accident Common Themes
  • Organizational Lapses

PHI Inc. Sikorsky S-76C++, N748P

Location: Morgan City, LA

Date: January 4, 2009


On January 04, 2009, a Petroleum Helicopters, Inc. (PHI) S-76C++ helicopter crashed seven minutes after departure from its home base of Amelia, LA. The helicopter was enroute to an off-shore oil rig helipad. Weather at the time of the accident was clear with ten miles visibility. The helicopter crashed in remote, marshy terrain after experiencing a loss of control event, descending rapidly, and impacting the ground. The pilot, co-pilot, and six of the seven passengers were killed.

The aircraft was equipped with a combination cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR). Flight recorder data indicated that the helicopter was in level cruise flight at 850 feet mean sea level (MSL) and traveling at 135 knots. Analysis of the audio recordings revealed a loud "bang" which was immediately followed by sounds consistent with "rushing wind." Subsequent to the power loss, the flight crew lost control of the helicopter, resulting in the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the accident was the result of a collision with a red-tailed hawk that fractured the windshield, and moved the engine power levers to a low power/idle position. The crew members were likely disoriented following the collision, and were unable to recover from the loss of power.