On August 28, 2023, at around 8:41 a.m., a helicopter registration number N109BC, owned and operated by Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue (BSFR) crashed into an apartment building in Pompano Beach, Broward County Florida killing a BSFR Captain and an adult civilian who was inside her apartment at the time of the crash.

The EC 135 Eurocopter helicopter and its three-person crew were responding to a traffic accident at the time of the crash. The helicopter suffered an inflight fire shortly after takeoff from Pompano Airpark (KPMP). The pilot of the helicopter declared an inflight emergency and attempted to return to the airport. Several videos were taken by civilians on the ground showing smoke trailing behind the helicopter and then what appeared to be failure of the tailboom causing the aircraft to lose control and descend into a residential area.

The helicopter crashed into an apartment complex east of Dixie Highway and south of Northeast 10th Street.

BSFR Captain Terryson Jackson, 50, a 19-year veteran with BSFR died as a result of the crash along with an unnamed civilian who was sitting on her couch when the crash occurred. The pilot and medic on the helicopter survived the crash and climbed through a hole created in the apartment’s roof by the impact. They, along with four persons on the ground were taken to Broward Health North Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the incident. The Eurocopter 135 is manufactured by European conglomerate Airbus Helicopters (formally known as Eurocopter). The Eurocopter 135 is predominately used for air medical transport (medevac). There have been 109 accidents involving the Eurocopter 135 since it entered service in 1996.

While it is too early to determine what may have caused the fire, smoke, and subsequent tailboom failure. Based upon our office’s review of the footage and experience with turbine helicopters possible causes include a cracked combustion chamber, faulty fuel nozzle, or fuel or hydraulic line failure.

Courtesy Angel Duran, https://www.instagram.com/angel_duran_photography

Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony grounded the Broward County Sheriff’s Office fleet of helicopters pending further inspection.

The NTSB investigation will likely take at least 18 months, after which the agency will issue its final report that will contain a statement of probable cause. An accident docket, which contains supporting documents, will also be available then.

Depending on the facts, the applicable law will likely be Florida state law, with flight and mechanical standards possibly from the Federal Aviation Regulation.

Aviation Law Group is a national law firm that limits its practice to handling only aviation accident cases, and attorney Christopher Rusing is licensed in both State and Federal Courts in the State of Florida and Washington State.

Additional Sources: