Final Report: EMS helicopter lost control

 - June 8, 2007, 6:33 AM

Eurocopter AS 350-B3, Apache Junction, Ariz., Dec. 14, 2004–The NTSB could not determine the reason for the loss of control the PHI AS 350 experienced on its final approach. The pilot was attempting to land in a parking lot to pick up an accident victim. The helicopter overflew the landing area in right turns, and during its final approach at 100 feet agl it became unstable. It rolled right about 30 degrees, to the left about 30 degrees, then right about 45 degrees. The nose pitched up to the left, then descended while spinning to the left.

The helicopter hit the parking lot in a nose-down attitude on its left side. The pilot said she had slowed to 20 to 25 knots at 100 feet when she felt the nose come up. She corrected left with the cyclic and the helicopter rolled violently to the left. She said the helicopter started to spin and she put the cyclic to the full left to avoid hitting a building. She saw the hydraulic caution light on but did not hear the aural warning.

She pulled the cyclic back and to the right with both hands, but it didn’t move. The anti-torque pedals appeared to work and stopped the spin. The helicopter then hit the ground. The engine continued to run after the ground impact, and a crewmember and several rescue personnel moved numerous switches in the cockpit in an attempt to shut down the engine; all post-impact switch positions are therefore unreliable.

The commercial pilot and a medical crewmember received serious injuries; the other medical crewmember was killed. The helicopter was destroyed.