Hillsborough sheriff chopper 'not flyable' after training incident; NTSB investigating

An incident involving a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office helicopter is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Two pilots were involved in the hard landing that happened during training on January 29. No one was hurt, but the chopper was damaged.

"Luckily, the most important part for us is that both of our pilots were safe that day," said HCSO spokesperson Danny Alvarez. "No injuries, they didn't even have to go to the hospital. 

The chopper has been taken out of circulation, and it is not clear how severe the damage is.

The sheriff's office is not releasing pictures of the damage because it's still under investigation.

The damage to the million-plus dollar aircraft is to the tail.

HCSO said the pilots were conducting an emergency training exercise that only involved them flying at the executive airport, where their air fleet is housed.

When they were close to the ground, something went wrong that led to a hard landing.

The NTSB, FAA, and HCSO are all investigating whether this was pilot error or a mechanical problem.

"You can see there is physical damage on the outside. The tail boom is slightly bent. You can't fly it," said Alvarez. "We wouldn't fly it anyway once you have one of those landings, even if there wasn't physical damage."

The certified training pilot has been identified as Stu O'Shannon.

The other pilot, who was being trained as part of his effort to earn a commercial certification, is John Thanasas.

HCSO is waiting for Airbus to evaluate the damage to say whether it will be replaced or fixed.

HCSO has three other helicopters that are still functional.