No black box could hinder NTSB investigation of fatal Hayward chopper crash

HAYWARD, Calif. (KGO) -- National Transportation Safety Board officials arrived at the Hayward Executive Airport just after 8 a.m. Tuesday to begin their investigation into Monday's fatal helicopter crash.

A student pilot was injured in the crash, but his flight instructor was killed. The Alameda County Coroner identified him as Wayne Prodger of Sunnyvale.

RELATED: Flight instructor killed in helicopter crash at Hayward airport identified, student in critical condition

The student pilot, who hasn't been identified, remains in the hospital in critical condition. Airport officials don't know the student's experience or training level.

Airport officials say the student pilot and his instructor were doing training flights on a Robison R44 helicopter, which usually last about an hour.

The airport manager, Doug McNeeley, says the control tower didn't get any distress calls, but they believe something went wrong during a hovering exercise, when they practice staying stationary in the air.

The chopper crashed near the runway and landed upside down.

One of the problems in this investigation is that there is no black box recording to help explain what was happening at the flight controls minutes before the crash.

"The black box, which is in the bigger airplanes, of course, provides a wealth of information that is recorded. That's not available in this case," says McNeeley. "So, that's why it's going to be very important to observe the controls, the instruments, the throttles, all of the flight controls to try and determine whether it was a mechanical problem with the helicopter. Or, whether it was something else."

Airport officials say the NTSB will issue an update after investigating the scene. But their final report, which will include the cause of the crash, could take up to one year to complete.

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