Monday, February 26, 2024

Engine recovered from helicopter that crashed into Williamsburg townhouse complex

An investigator looks over the engine of a crashed Robinson R44 helicopter on Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The helicopter crashed into a townhouse building in the Bristol Commons neighborhood of Williamsburg on July 8, 2018. (WYDaily/Bryan DeVasher)
An investigator looks over the engine of a crashed Robinson R44 helicopter on Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The helicopter crashed into a townhouse building in the Bristol Commons neighborhood of Williamsburg on July 8, 2018. (WYDaily/Bryan DeVasher)

WILLIAMSBURG —Investigators have recovered the engine from the Robinson R44 helicopter that crashed into a Williamsburg condominium building on Sunday, killing the pilot and a 91-year-old woman who lived in the complex.

Representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board, the helicopter company and the engine’s manufacturer remained at the scene Tuesday, along with Williamsburg fire crews and members of the Virginia State Police.

One investigator was observed looking over the engine, while another was seen photographing parts of the aircraft that had been recovered from the heavily damaged building in the Bristol Commons neighborhood.

The R44 is a small utility helicopter manufactured by the Robinson Helicopter Co. of Torrance, California. The aircraft, which can seat one pilot and three passengers, is powered by a 245-horsepower, six-cylinder engine made by Lycoming Engines of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. It is 38 feet long and has a main rotor with a radius of 16½ feet, according to the manufacturer.

Doug Brazy, an NTSB investigator, told reporters on Monday that the helicopter is about the size of a small car.

An investigator photographs a piece of wreckage from a crashed helicopter on Tuesday, July 10, at the Bristol Commons townhouse complex in Williamsburg. (WYDaily/Bryan DeVasher)
An investigator photographs a piece of wreckage from a crashed helicopter on Tuesday, July 10, at the Bristol Commons townhouse complex in Williamsburg. (WYDaily/Bryan DeVasher)

The crash happened shortly after 4:30 p.m. Sunday when the helicopter, which had taken off just minutes before from the Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport, slammed into a 10-unit townhome building in the 1100 block of Settlement Drive. According to witnesses, the craft exploded moments after impact, sparking a fire that engulfed much of the building.

Related: ‘It’s all gone’: Woman narrowly escapes as helicopter crashes through Williamsburg condo

Charley Rogers, a fixed-based operator at the Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport, confirmed that the pilot was Henry Schwarz of Alexandria, Virginia. Schwarz, the sole occupant onboard the aircraft, had taken off from the airport at 4:26 p.m. Sunday, Rogers said.

FAA records show the helicopter has been registered to Schwarz since 2004.

The crash also killed Jean Lonchak Danylko, who lived in a first-floor townhouse in the building that was hit.

Related: Residents of Williamsburg community where helicopter crashed see need for stronger bonds

The NTSB is expected to issue a preliminary report on the crash within the next 10 to 14 days, Brazy said Monday.


Managing Editor Bryan DeVasher can be reached at bryan@localvoicemedia.com

Bryan DeVasher
Bryan DeVasherhttp://wydaily.com
Bryan DeVasher is the managing editor-digital of WYDaily. A resident of Hampton Roads for more than two decades, he has worked for news organizations in Virginia, Illinois, Missouri and Indiana. He most recently was a member of the public relations staff for Virginia State Police.

Related Articles

MORE FROM AUTHOR