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NSF Press Release


NSF PR 03-11 - January 17, 2003

Media contact:

 Peter West

 (703) 292-8070 / (703) 409-8232 - cell

Helicopter Crashes in Antarctica
Injured pilot, passenger flown to New Zealand for medical treatment

Photo of helicopter (Size: 111K)
A Bell 212 helicopter, the type involved in the recent accident.
Photo Credit: NSF/Peter West
Select image for larger version
(Size: 375KB)

 Note About Images

A helicopter flying in support of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Antarctic research program has crashed near McMurdo Station, NSF's science and logistics hub on the continent.

The helicopter's pilot and a passenger, the only people aboard the aircraft, were injured in the incident, which happened at approximately 10:00 p.m. EST on Jan. 16. They were evacuated to New Zealand aboard a New York Air National Guard LC-130 cargo aircraft for medical treatment. Medical personnel accompanied the injured on that flight.

The aircraft arrived in New Zealand at approximately noon EST Jan. 17, and the patients were transferred to a local hospital in Christchurch, NZ.

The names of the injured are not being released, pending notification of family.

The helicopter was shuttling cargo to science stations in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, an ice-free area of the continent, roughly 96 kilometers (60 miles) from the station across the ice-covered McMurdo Sound.

Petroleum Helicopters Inc., of Lafayette, La., operates NSF's helicopter fleet in Antarctica. The incident involved a seven-passenger Bell 212 helicopter.

An investigation into the cause of the crash has begun.

PHI flies approximately 1,400 flight hours each season in support of U.S. Antarctic research. This is the first aircraft accident with serious injury for the U.S. Antarctic Program since PHI assumed responsibility for helicopter flight operations from the U.S. Navy in 1996.

NSF, through its Office of Polar Programs, manages the U.S. Antarctic Program.




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