ITALY – The National Transportation Safety Board Released its preliminary report regarding the double-fatality helicopter crash that took place July 6 near Italy. The crash occurred about 11:50 a.m. near Farm-to-Market Road 876 and Bell Branch Road, about 30 minutes south of Waxahachie, and claimed the lives of both male occupants onboard.

The B525 helicopter belonged to Bell Helicopter out of Arlington, Texas, and Bell Helicopter’s media relation’s office stated the aircraft was performing a developmental flight test at the time.

“On July 6, 2016, about 11:48 a.m. central daylight time, an experimental Bell 525 helicopter, N525TA, broke up inflight and impacted terrain near Italy, Texas. The two pilots onboard were fatally injured and the helicopter was destroyed,” the preliminary report stated.  “The flight originated from Arlington, Texas, as a developmental flight test and was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.”

The report also stated that this is preliminary information was subject to change and may contain errors. Any errors in the report will be corrected when the final report has been completed, it continued.

 According to Bell Helicopter’s website, the 525 Relentless has standard seating for the helicopter — two flight crew members and 16 passengers with a maximum range of 570 miles. The FAA registry website lists the helicopter’s classification as experimental.

Lt. Lonny Haschel, a Texas Department of Public Safety Public Information Officer, stated in a press release at the time of the accident that there were initial concerns the aircraft struck a power pole near the location. The electric company arrived and confirmed there was no power outage from the crash and the helicopter did not strike the pole, he said.

Peter Knudson, the NTSB spokesperson, said in a previous article that six investigators arrived from the agency’s major investigations division in Washington, D.C. to document the scene and investigate the accident. While searching the scene they were able to recover a recording device that could have contained information relevant to the investigation. The recording device was sent back to the NTSB’s lab in Washington to download its contents.

Knudson also said in a previous article that he did not have any information on what type of recording device was recovered in the wreckage, but added the device was not described as a cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorder often used on commercial aircrafts.

“The recorder may contain perimeters used for flight-testing since this was a test flight. It is sort of a little hazy right now. Again, this is their first day on scene and they are getting a little started here. But they did say that do have a recorder,” Knudson said. “They are going to what is called an organizational meeting tonight, which is where they are going to bring all of the groups together that are going to be participating in the investigation. The FAA, by law, participates in every NTSB investigation. So they will be there, the manufacturer will be there and there will be other parties as well.”

The final accident report could take from six months to a year to complete, the latest release states.

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