NTSB releases initial report on helicopter crash that killed pair from Virginia

The Robinson Helicopter R44 II was registered to Star Quest LLC of Wilmington, Delaware. [photo courtesy FlightAware.com]

The National Transportation Safety Board has released an initial report on the crash of a helicopter into the Albemarle Sound last month that killed two brothers from Virginia.

According to the report issued Monday, the crash of the Robinson R44 II, registered to Star Quest LLC of Wilmington, Delaware, happened on July 19 around 6:48 p.m. north of the mouth of the Alligator River.

The bodies of pilot Alan Arant, 36, and passenger John Arant, 35, both from Glade Hill, Va., were found in the water four days later. Only fragments of the helicopter floating on the surface were located as of the release of the initial report.

What may have caused the crash is still not yet known, and the investigation could take between 12 and 24 months to be completed.

Surveillance video at the Mecklenburg-Brunswick Regional Airport in Broadnax, Virginia showed the helicopter land at 5:10 p.m. After fueling up, the chopper departed at 5:22 p.m. on a path to the Dare County Regional Airport on Roanoke Island.

Review of preliminary Federal Aviation Administration track data revealed that data was only available for the first two minutes of the flight.

According to a witness located on the northwest side of the Albemarle Sound in Hertford, about 6:30 p.m. she and her husband heard the sound of a low flying small helicopter around 6:30 p.m.

She subsequently observed a blue helicopter land in an open field that was about one-half mile from the shoreline.

The witness reported that she and her husband drove their car to see if any assistance was needed; however, as they were about 50 feet from the helicopter it took off.

She reported that the takeoff was quick, it sounded like a normal helicopter, and it flew toward the Albemarle Sound in a southeast direction where it eventually exited out of view over the water.

She added that the weather conditions over the water were low overcast clouds; it was misty, and you could not see the land across the Sound, which would be visible during a “nice day.”

According to the United States Coast Guard incident commander, about 7:40 p.m. they were notified about an overdue helicopter destined for Dare County Regional Airport.

A search was initiated over the Albemarle Sound based upon the last known position of cell phone data from pilot and passenger.

The day after the accident, fragments of the helicopter were located floating on the surface of the sound consistent with the general area of the cell phone position data.

Review of weather radar data imagery about the time of the accident over the debris area revealed areas of widespread light to heavy precipitation.

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.