A helicopter went down at a PG&E training facility in Livermore Wednesday morning, sending two people to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.
The contractor helicopter, a Bell 407, went down at 9:56 a.m. at the PG&E facility on National Drive, according to federal investigators. The utility said the chopper was performing a training exercise when it crashed in a PG&E parking lot next to training poles for the PG&E Livermore Electric Safety Academy.
"So PG&E, this is a training facility for them," Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department Battalion Chief James Artman said. "They do all manner of operations. Today, they were doing operations with a helicopter. During the helicopter operations, some event occurred."
Firefighters had to pull the trapped pilot out of the chopper.
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"There was no fire involved so it was a relatively easy operation for us to get the pilot out and get him to the ambulance and get him to the hospital," Artman said.
The second person transported to the hospital was suspended from a cable outside of the helicopter when the crash happened, the National Transportation Safety Board said.
An NTSB spokesperson said the crash happened during an exercise where the pilot and that second person were practicing positioning the helicopter based on information received from a lineman.
The spokesperson also said that the helicopter was substantially damaged.
Aviation expert Mike McCarron said it's common for utilities to hire contractors to perform aerial maintenance and surveys around power lines. In the case of this crash, he said it's a relief to hear that there was no fire.
"Basically says the fuel tank wasn’t breached, which probably indicates there wasn’t a great deal of speed involved," he said.
The FAA and NTSB will be conducting an investigation. The NTSB said that its preliminary report on the crash should be out in a few weeks.