The FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive Feb. 12 after a helicopter instructor and his student nearing her private pilot helicopter checkride died Jan. 26 in an accident at Erie Municipal Airport about 15 miles north of Denver. The FAA said a cracked spindle resulted in separation of the main rotor blade from the Enstrom helicopter.
The emergency AD came after Enstrom issued a nearly identical service bulletin on Feb. 11. A witness reported to the Daily Camera newspaper that the helicopter was making a steep approach. The newspaper reported that the Enstrom 280FX was owned by New Course Aviation and operated by Erie-based Mountain One Helicopters.
The directive was issued to owners and operators of Enstrom models (all serial numbers) F-28A, 280, F28-C, F28-C-2, F-28C-2R, 280C, F-28F, F-28F-R, 280F, and 280FX; and the 480 model with a serial number of 5001 through 5006; with a main rotor spindle part number 28-1482-11 or 28-14282-13. Cracked spindles must be replaced prior to flight, and results must be reported to the FAA within 72 hours.
The witness reported hearing a loud pop as the helicopter began to descend. Instructor Alex Viola, 23, of Arkansas City, Kansas, and helicopter student Amy Wood, 25, who stated on a website that she was planning a career as a helicopter pilot, were killed. She worked in the prepared foods section of Whole Foods in Boulder and had graduated from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.