FAA released document about helicopter rotor inspections same day as Mercy Flight Crash

ELBA, N.Y. (WHEC) — The same day that a Bell 429 helicopter crashed in Elba, killing two, the Federal Aviation Administration released a document requiring the inspection of tail rotors for some Bell 429 helicopters.

The FAA told News10NBC reporter Berkley Brean that the posting of the Airworthiness Directive on the same day as the crash was a coincidence. The document concerns 120 newly manufactured Bell 429 helicopters. The helicopter that crashed was made in 2017.

The FAA released a document on Tuesday about an issue with a rotor component on a Bell 429, reported in Canada. The component called a pitch link, change’s the path of the plane’s blades as the speed changes.

The FAA said its new helicopter inspection requirement was for safety purposes, to replace any worn-out pitch links. If helicopters fly with a faulty pitch link, it could lead to a loss of control.

The document said the FAA received the pitch link warning on April 2021 from Canada’s aviation authority. You can read the FAA’s full document, called an "Airworthiness Directive" on Regulations.Gov.

The cause of the Mercy Flight crash in Elba on Tuesday is being investigated. Maj. Eugene Staniszewski of the New York State Police held a press conference after the crash, where he said it’s possible that the helicopter may have struck power lines on the way down. He said authorities don’t believe the lines caused the crash.

James Sauer, 60 of Churchville, died in the crash. Sauer was a retired New York State Police Pilot, a veteran of Afghanistan, and a father of two. The other man who died was Stewart M. Dietrick, 60 of Prosper, Texas, a flight instructor.