FBI divers to search for copter's tail rotor
LIHUE » Divers from the FBI's Los Angeles office will try to find the missing tail rotor of the Inter-Island Helicopter that crashed last month on Kauai's North Shore, killing a California man.
The FBI dive team, which has met with local dive shops to gather information, volunteered for the assignment, said lead investigator Jim Silliman, of the National Transportation Safety Board.
The FBI "occasionally will help us out with the investigation" if they have experts available in an area in which the NTSB is not equipped, Silliman said. NTSB does not have its own dive team, he said.
A dive company hired by the helicopter's insurance company shortly after the March 11 crash failed to come up with the missing tail rotor shaft before heavy surf moved in. One rotor blade was found by a beachgoer a few days after the accident when it washed up on shore.
"It's kind of a long shot," Silliman said of the attempt to find the rotor mechanisms, "but it's worth a try."
Finding the tail rotor output shaft, the portion of the tail rotor gearbox, and the rotor blades would certainly help Silliman's investigation into the cause of the crash, but "it doesn't hinge on it," he said.
The Hughes 500 chopper was on a routine tour March 11 when numerous witnesses reported hearing two "pops" and seeing two pieces of the tail fall into the ocean.