Procedure Deviations Cited in Helo Midair
The NTSB determined the probable cause of the June 29, 2008 fatal midair between two Bell 407s on approach to Arizona’s Flagstaff Medical Center (FMC) was the failure of both pilots to see and avoid the other, but significant contributing factors included the pilots noncompliance with established communications and noise-abatement procedures. The daylight VMC collision involved helicopters operated by Classic Helicopters and Air Methods. The NTSB noted that the Classic pilot did not contact the FMC communication center directly while inbound, as required, and that the Air Methods pilot did not follow noise-abatement guidelines, which would have put him on approach to the helipad from a more easterly direction–and likely easier for the Classic pilot to see. The Classic helicopter was approaching from the northeast. The NTSB noted that had the Classic pilot contacted the FMC directly as required, “The FMC transportation coordinator likely would have told him that another helicopter was expected at the helipad,” heightening his situational awareness. The NTSB also noted that neither helicopter was equipped with TCAS.