2 dead in Ellis Co. helicopter crash

News 8's Todd Unger has more.

ELLIS COUNTY -- Two fatalities have been confirmed in a helicopter crash in Ellis County.

DPS and the Ellis County Sheriff's Office are on the scene of the crash near FM 876 and Bell Branch Road.

Bell Helicopter confirmed two employees were killed in the crash just before 12 p.m. on Wednesday. The National Transportation Safety Board said the crash occurred in Chambers Creek, Texas, about nine miles northwest of Corsicana.

The Texas Department of Public Safety says the first 911 call came in at 11:50 a.m.

Bell said in a statement its helicopter was "conducting developmental flight test operations on the Bell 525 at our Xworx facility in Arlington, Texas, that resulted in a helicopter accident."

A Bell spokesperson said there was one "chase" helicopter present as well, which is standard in test flight scenarios. 

No one else was injured.

Lynn Lunsford with the Federal Aviation Administration says the helicopter had two people on board when it crashed at about 11:45 a.m. The helicopter was destroyed, Lunsford said.

Aviation experts said the crash of the 525, of which Bell is currently testing two, could have an impact on the model's rollout targeting primarily commercial customers.

"With over 10,000 parts on the aircraft, the crash could have been caused by the failure of a single component," said Jon Kettles, a Dallas-based attorney that has investigated over 100 aircraft crashes.

Kettles says once the tragic shock wears off, the crash could leave an impact on the future of the next-generation helicopter.

"Will Bell be able to deliver a safe aircraft?" he said. "Everyone is going to be looking at Bell's response to make sure they find the cause quickly."

Investigators with the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were expected on site Wednesday.

Two farmers who witnessed the crash told News 8 they saw the helicopter flying from the northeast and came into contact with a transmission line.

Lonny Haschel with DPS says the helicopter did not strike the line and electricity transmission was unaffected.

An eyewitness who works at a nearby body shop told News 8 he heard two "booms" and saw the helicopter immediately descend.

He asked not to be identified.

"There was nothing the pilot could do," he said.

TXDOT has also placed roadblocks south of the crash site on L.R. Campbell Road.

Bell says the 525 first began test flights in 2015. The aircraft is set to be certified for commercial sale in 2017, according to a spokesperson.

This is the first crash of a Bell 525.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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