ATLANTA — Two officers in an Atlanta police helicopter made no distress calls before the aircraft collided with wires atop a 42-foot power pole, according to a preliminary report from federal transportation investigators.
The crew wasn’t communicating with air traffic control at the time of the accident, but the helicopter was observed on radar maneuvering immediately before the crash, according to a preliminary report released late Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The helicopter crashed near an intersection while searching for a missing child. The purpose of the flight was to “support ground police personnel in locating a missing child,” the NTSB report states.
The pilot, 48-year-old Richard J. Halford; and 40-year-old tactical flight officer Shawn A. Smiley were killed in the crash.
The report sheds little light on what might have caused the chopper to plunge to the ground Nov. 3, but describes the fiery aftermath of the crash.
“The main wreckage came to rest in the center of the road adjacent to the power pole,” the report states. “A post-crash fire ensued and the fuselage and cabin sustained substantial fire damage.”
The tail boom of the helicopter was separated from the fuselage, and was found adjacent to the main wreckage, the report notes. “The tail rotor blades remained attached to the tail rotor gearbox,” it states.
It will likely take several months before the full investigation is complete, NTSB officials have said.
Weather conditions observed at the Fulton County Airport just west of the area included a clear sky, calm wind and visibility of 10 miles or greater, the report notes.