Accidents: September 2014

 - September 4, 2014, 12:35 AM

Preliminary Report: Hard Landing Damages AStar

Airbus Helicopters AS350B3, Fallon, Nev., July 3, 2014–The pilot of the helicopter received minor injuries in a hard landing and rollover in VFR conditions approximately 54 miles east of Fallon, Nev. The helicopter was registered to Zuni and operated by Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters under a Part 133 contract with the Bureau of Land Management. The pilot was maneuvering the helicopter with an external load into a mountain drop zone at 8,600 feet msl. As the helicopter approached, and with the load about 10 feet above the ground, the nose yawed left and the helicopter descended. The pilot set the load down, but the helicopter continued to rotate to the left while descending. It landed hard and rolled over, incurring substantial damage.

Preliminary Report: TBM 700 Accident Claims Two

Daher-Socata TBM 700, Seine-et-Marne, France, Aug. 6, 2014–Two of the five people on board, one of whom was the pilot, were killed when the aircraft crashed near a farm in the town of Saint-Jean-les-Deux-Twin. Two of the three survivors were airlifted to a Paris hospital. Early reports said the aircraft hit the ground in a flat attitude.

Preliminary Report: AStar Main-Rotor Overspeed

Airbus Helicopters AS350B3, Anchorage, Alaska, June 11, 2014–The helicopter was substantially damaged after a main-rotor overspeed followed by a ground resonance event during engine start at 11:40 a.m. at Merrill Airport. The helicopter was to operate as a VFR Part 91 ferry flight and carried three people, none of whom was injured. The first pilot, a certified flight instructor sitting in the left seat, reported he had been hired to ferry the helicopter to Georgetown, Texas, and was providing AS350B3 helicopter transition training to the second pilot in the right seat, the machine’s new owner. The first pilot reported some difficulty starting the helicopter and asked for assistance. The engine was eventually started successfully.

The instructor noted that while the helicopter was operating at flight idle, the yellow twt.grip light was illuminated. He instructed the new owner to advance the collective-mounted throttle twist grip slowly to the open position until the light went out. As the second pilot began to advance the throttle, the engine immediately went to a high rpm and the helicopter began shaking violently and rotated about 240 degrees to the left. The instructor performed an emergency engine shutdown before all occupants exited the helicopter.

Preliminary Report: Helicopter Damaged During Training Session

Bell 206B, Decatur, Texas, June 17, 2014–The helicopter, registered to MBM Aviation Consultants, was operated by the FAA as a Part 91 training flight and departed Fort Worth Alliance Airport at approximately 3 p.m. in VFR conditions. The flight was planned as part of an FAA quarterly proficiency program for inspectors. The contract flight instructor who had initially been scheduled to fly became unavailable and an FAA flight instructor was scheduled. The accident flight was the student’s first flight with the FAA instructor and the instructor’s second flight of the day, with a flight profile scheduled to last about 2.5 hours.

The instructor and student were about two hours into the flight and had completed a series of maneuvers, including straight-in and 180-degree autorotations. Before proceeding back to Fort Worth, the instructor planned to demonstrate another 180-degree autorotation and later reported he had plenty of altitude so he made a slightly wider turn onto final approach. During descent the main rotor was in the mid- to low green rpm range. He also said he felt some resistance in the throttle and didn’t get the power back in time. He then elected to level the helicopter, so the tail wouldn’t hit first. The student said he became uneasy observing during the autorotation and checked to be certain the throttle was applied fully, but the helicopter landed hard. The flight instructor and student received minor injuries, and the helicopter was substantially damaged.

Examination of the runway revealed a scar consistent with the tailboom’s contacting the runway first. The helicopter came to rest upright and partially off the runway, approximately 207 feet from the first impact point. Numerous marks consistent with the helicopter’s landing skids were noted between the first scar and the point the helicopter came to rest. Examination of the helicopter later revealed that while it was sitting upright on its landing skids it leaned to the left.

The tail boom had separated just aft of the stabilizer, the tail-rotor gearbox was torn from the tail boom, and the helicopter’s transmission was tilted aft and had detached from the driveshaft. Both main rotor blades had impact damage consistent with striking the tail boom and horizontal stabilizer.

Preliminary Report: Three People Injured in Helicopter’s Tail-first Descent

Airbus Helicopters AS350B2, Dietrich, Idaho, June 29, 2014–The Part 135 helicopter, operated by Reeder Flying Service, departed Twin Falls at 4:30 p.m. headed to Rexburg on a VFR photography trip. Witnesses reported that the helicopter was proceeding in a northeasterly direction, when it made a sudden 180-degree reversal to the southwest near Dietrich and began a rapid tail-first descent into the ground. The pilot and two passengers received serious injuries and the helicopter was substantially damaged.

Preliminary Report: JetRanger Loses Power

Bell 206B JetRanger, Lincoln, Neb., July 26, 2014–The commercial pilot was not injured when his privately operated helicopter suffered a total power loss during a local Part 137 aerial application flight in daylight VFR conditions. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The pilot reported he had put 25 gallons of fuel into the machine before he departed. About 12 to 15 minutes into the flight, with the helicopter flying at 70 knots about 16 feet above the ground, the engine lost all power. The pilot immediately entered an autorotation to a soybean field that was directly in front of him. The helicopter landed and slid approximately 10 to 15 feet and struck a berm, severing the tail boom.

Factual Report: Reason for Jet’s Go-Around Unknown

Beechcraft Premier IA, Thomson-McDuffie County Airport, Thomson, Ga., Feb. 20, 2013–The jet struck a 72-foot-high concrete utility pole extending into the clear area near the end of the runway during a go-around at Thomson-McDuffie County Airport. The Premier crashed into trees, killing all five passengers and seriously injuring the two pilots.

The right-seat pilot monitoring the flight told NTSB investigators he had no idea why the pilot flying initiated a go-around after what he perceived to be a normal nighttime VFR landing. After the ensuing accident, the pilot flying remembered nothing beyond turning on the landing light on final approach. The only unusual element of the final approach the non-flying pilot recalled was the illumination of an anti-skid fail light after the landing gear was lowered.

The cockpit voice recorder captured the takeoff warning horn sound about 0.3 seconds before the pilot said he was making a go-around. The airplane lifted off near the departure end of the runway when the pilot monitoring directed the pilot to increase pitch attitude. According to data from the enhanced ground-proximity warning system (EGPWS), the airplane had climbed to a height of 63 feet about nine seconds after liftoff when the left wing struck the pole about a quarter mile east of the departure end of the runway. The airplane continued another 925 feet before hitting trees and terrain and was destroyed by impact forces and a post-crash fire.

The initial investigation revealed that a power company had erected the utility pole some years ago without notifying the FAA. The agency became aware of the utility poles only after the accident. The NTSB’s summary of preliminary EGPWS data stated, “The calibrated airspeed was about 125 knots when the airplane lifted off. The airplane continued straight ahead and slowly accelerated and gradually climbed, until a rapid pitch up from 10.5 to 27.4 degrees within one second. One second later, the roll increased from 2.1 degrees left to 71.7 degrees left.”

Final Report: Jet Overran Georgia Runway

Beechcraft 400, Macon, Ga., Sept. 18, 2012–The pilot’s failure to maintain proper airspeed, which resulted in the airplane touching down too fast on a wet runway with inadequate runway remaining to stop, led to the overrun accident, according to the Safety Board. Contributing to the overrun were the flight crewmembers’ failure to correctly use the appropriate performance chart to calculate the distance required to stop on a contaminated runway and their general lack of proper crew resource management.

Before departure, there were no known mechanical malfunctions or abnormalities with the airplane, including the brakes, flaps, anti-skid or thrust reversers. The pilot flying occupied the left seat. The copilot, acting as the pilot monitoring, calculated a Vref speed of 108 knots for the landing weight and both pilots reported they set their airspeed bugs to 108 knots 11 miles from the airport.

The pilot flying touched down about 1,000 feet beyond the approach end of the runway and used maximum reverse thrust, brakes and ground spoilers. Both pilots reported that although they could feel a “pulsation” in the anti-skid brake system, the airplane hydroplaned and came to rest 283 feet beyond the paved portion of the runway in an area of trees.

Post-accident examination of the airspeed index bugs revealed the flying pilot’s was set to 115 knots and the copilot’s to 105 knots, which correlated with their previously calculated and reported V1 and V2 departure speeds. Investigators deemed it likely they did not move the airspeed bugs during the approach to landing. Post-accident testing of the brake system components did not reveal any mechanical malfunctions or abnormalities that would have precluded normal operation.

Radar data suggested the airplane was 15 to 19 knots above Vref as it crossed the runway threshold and that the crew had flown a four-degree rather than three-degree glideslope in the absence of operative precision approach path indicator lights. Although the precise touchdown point could not be determined accurately, given the approximate glideslope and the excessive speed, investigators concluded that the airplane likely floated before touching down.

They also found it likely that the pilots failed to calculate their landing distance using the appropriate performance chart for Macon’s contaminated 4,694-foot-long runway. The airplane’s performance charts for a contaminated runway stated that a Vref of 110 knots would require 4,800 feet of runway. But at Vref +10 knots, the airplane would need 6,100 feet, 1,400 feet more than was available at Macon. The NTSB said the pilots also exhibited poor crew resource management by not using the appropriate landing chart; not recognizing that the runway was too short based on then current conditions; failing to reset their airspeed bugs before the approach; and not recognizing and addressing the excess approach speed.