PennSTAR helicopter crashes in Del.; pilot killed

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The pilot of a PennSTAR helicopter who was conducting a training flight died Thursday after crashing in New Castle County, Del., authorities said.


The pilot was the only person on the aircraft, Delaware State Police spokesman Cpl. Jeffrey Hale said.

He was identified at a late-afternoon news conference as a 37-year-old man from Franklinville, in Gloucester County, N.J. His name was not released.


The 2006 Airbus EC135 helicopter crashed about 11:55 a.m. into a drainage ditch in the back of a U.S. Post Office facility on Quigley Boulevard in New Castle, “then became engulfed in flames,” Hale said. Responding firefighters extinguished the fire.

The pilot was pronounced dead at the scene. No one on the ground was injured, but flying debris and flames from the crash caused minor property damage to several vehicles and an unoccupied Post Office maintenance building, Hale said.

Penn Medicine spokeswoman Susan Phillips said in a statement that the helicopter was operated by Louisiana-based Metro Aviation, which provides aviation services for PennSTAR, the air transportation service for the University of Pennsylvania Health System. “The pilot of the helicopter was conducting a training flight. No patients or Penn Medicine employees were on board. We have no further information at this time,” the statement said.

Kristen King Holmes, a spokeswoman for Metro Aviation, said in an email: “Our thoughts and prayers are with our pilot and the entire PennSTAR and Metro Aviation family. The accident is under investigation and we have dispatched our operations, safety and maintenance leadership to the scene. We are cooperating with the investigation, but that is all I can share at this time.”




Added Holmes: “Although we have notified the next of kin, we are giving the family time to notify other loved ones and aren’t releasing the [pilot’s] name at this time.”

Hale said the pilot was employed by Metro Aviation and had flown from the Atlantic City International Airport. He said the pilot was conducting training in the area of the New Castle Airport when the copter crashed.




The helicopter had taken off from the Atlantic City International Airport at 11:17 a.m. for the 38-minute flight.

Hale said the cause of the crash was under investigation.

The Delaware State Police, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are on the scene conducting an investigation, which is in its early stages, Hale said.

The (Wilmington) News Journal, citing airport general manager Stephen Williams, reported that preliminary indications were that the helicopter was conducting practice approaches at the airport.











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