Preliminary Report: EMS fatal flight in Arkansas

 - January 31, 2007, 10:42 AM

Bell 206B JetRanger, Gentry, Ark., Feb. 21, 2005–An Air Evac Lifeteam JetRanger crashed shortly after takeoff while transporting a patient to a hospital in Springdale, Ark. The helicopter was substantially damaged, the patient was killed and the three crewmembers were seriously injured. The sky was clear and visibility was 10 miles.

A state trooper watched the helicopter depart with a vertical climb to approximately 100 feet, at which point it began to spin. It then became “silent” and fell to the ground.

The pilot said he could not find any wind indicators, but the wind was reported to be out of the north and “brisk,” at about 10 to 15 knots. The helicopter was in a hover when he maneuvered it to the right to avoid power lines that converged at a utility pole north of the house on the property.

Slightly below the power lines, the helicopter began an uninitiated turn to the right. The pilot had full left torque pedal applied and attempted to gain forward airspeed and also used the cyclic to follow the nose of the aircraft to fly out of the turn.

He could not gain airspeed, and the helicopter began to spin to the right and descend. He said his only option was to initiate an autorotation, so he lowered the collective and rolled off the power to idle, which slowed the spinning. When the helicopter was approximately 10 to 20 feet agl, he pulled the collective fully up to cushion the landing, but there was insufficient rotor rpm to arrest the high rate of descent.

A company spokesman said that the JetRanger, formerly used for offshore oil work, had been refurbished as an EMS helicopter.