NTSB investigating LAFD helicopter tree strike

lafd fire 4 helicopter
On June 20 the Los Angeles Fire Department announced their just-purchased helicopter, “Fire 4”, was en route to LA.

The Los Angeles Fire Department is not saying much about an NTSB investigation into an accident that involved their brand new firefighting helicopter, Fire 4, an AW139 that they just put into service one or two months ago. On September 2 Fire 4 was making water drops on the La Tuna Fire in Los Angeles and struck a tree, according to a preliminary accident report by the FAA.

At least one person told NBC 4 in Los Angeles that while monitoring fire traffic on a scanner he heard the pilot say he hit something and put out a Mayday call. The pilot made a successful emergency landing at the Verdugo Hills High School football field.

fire 3 lafd helicopter
File photo of Fire 4’s sister ship, Fire 3. Both are AW139’s. LAFD photo.

You’ll probably want to click on full screen at bottom-right in the video below.

Heliweb has photos that appear to show small tree branches embedded in the damaged areas of the fuselage while the aircraft was parked on the football field. The helicopter apparently received substantial damage to the tail boom, stabilizers, and left side sponson/wheel housing. The left side stabilizer is missing in the photos.

The FAA’s preliminary accident notice describes the incident which was posted to the site on September 5, 2017:

N304FD AGUSTA WESTLAND AW139 ROTORCRAFT DURING FIRE FIGHTING OPERATION CLIPPED TREES AND FORCE LANDED IN A FIELD, NEAR LOS ANGELES, CA

The FAA report said there were no injuries.

After the new helicopter flew in from Philadelphia in June the LAFD spent several weeks outfitting it with a 350-gallon belly tank and other equipment so that it could join their other six helicopters based at the Van Nuys Airport.

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