Poor Decision Making Cited in EMS Helicopter Crash

 - April 15, 2013, 1:22 PM

A string of poor decisions by the pilot of a Eurocopter AS350 being flown on an emergency medical mission preceded the Aug. 26, 2011, crash of the aircraft, according to the NTSB’s report on the accident. Four people–the pilot, a patient, flight nurse and paramedic–were killed in the accident at 6.41 p.m. in Mosby, Mo. after the commercial pilot first ran the helicopter out of fuel and then failed to establish an autorotation.

The pilot had departed a hospital heliport for a refueling point aware that he had just 30 minutes of fuel remaining at the time of liftoff. The NTSB investigation discovered that the flight training the pilot had received in autorotations did not cover the control inputs required to enter the maneuver safely from cruise airspeed.

The report also highlighted numerous phone calls and texts the pilot initiated and received during the course of the multi-stop trip that the Board considered to be distractions and contributors to the accident, despite a lack of evidence that the pilot was using his cellphone at the time the engine failed.