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FAA issued report on same day as helicopter crash, citing model of helicopter had "unsafe condition"

Posted at 6:46 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-29 18:46:44-04

ELBA, N.Y. (WKBW) — 7 News has learned that the FAA issued a report on Tuesday, the same day of the deadly helicopter crash in Elba, stating that parts of certain Bell Model 429 helicopters were considered in "unsafe condition." That's the same model that crashed Tuesday killing experienced pilots, James Sauer and Stewart Dietrich.

The report, or Airworthiness Derective (AD) states:

"This AD was prompted by a report of a worn pitch link, and the FAA's determination that all TR pitch link assemblies are affected by the unsafe condition. This AD continues to require the actions specified in AD 2019-11-05, and revises the applicability and requires inspections of certain other TR pitch link assemblies. The FAA is issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products."

On Friday the FAA told 7 News:

"The Airworthiness Directive [] involves bearings and other components in the tail rotor linkage that were showing unusual wear. It instructs operators to inspect the bearing and associated linkage, and to replace the parts if necessary."

"As part of the ongoing accident investigation, the NTSB will determine whether this inspection was completed on the accident aircraft."

On Wednesday NTSB Air Safety Investigator, Aaron McCarter said the helicopter's tail boom, which contains the tail rotor, was found 300 feet away from the main wreckage. The tail rotor keeps the helicopter's nose pointed in the right direction.
The AD also said failure to address the issues cited, could lead to loss of control.

The NTSB said a preliminary report on the investigation will be released on Friday, May 6. A final report could take up to a year.

McCarter said most of the work gets done when the on-scene portion is over. The remnants will be moved to Delaware to be further investigated by the NTSB. He said the helicopter departed Batavia around 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday, and around 1 p.m. is when several witnesses saw it hovering at 2,000 feet above ground, before it crashed.

McCarter said there was no black box, but data analysis will help investigators learn more.

Sauer and Dietrich, were both 60-years-old. Dietrich was a Bell pilot from Prosper, Texas.

Sauer was a well known first responder who served in the United States Army. His obituary states he had "multiple deployments including Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, Restore Hope, Desert Storm and others."

Sauer also served as a police officer in the Rochester and Holley Police Departments. He also served as a volunteer firefighter, along with the New York State Department, and the New York Army National Guard, where he was a pilot for 40 years. He joined Mercy Flight recently to be a pilot.

Sauer was a loved husband, father, brother, uncle, and grandfather to six grandchildren. Multiple friends and colleagues told 7 News that Sauer was "the best," and was dedicated to his community.

Sauer's funeral service will be held on Monday, May 2, at 1 p.m. at the Open Door Baptist Church, 350 Scottsville-Chili Road, Churchville.

Donations can be made in memory of James to the Open Door Baptist Church.