Preliminary Report: Aeromed flight barely gets off the ground

 - March 20, 2008, 6:28 AM

AGUSTA A109E, DALLAS, TEXAS, SEPT. 3, 2003–The Agusta twin-engine helicopter (N143CF) was substantially damaged at approximately 7:50 p.m. CDT during an aborted takeoff from the Methodist Dallas Medical Center helipad. The commercial pilot received minor injuries and the flight paramedic and flight nurse were uninjured. The helicopter was registered to and operated by North Central Texas Services of Grand Prairie, Texas, doing business as Care Flite. The aircraft was operating in night VMC as it attempted to depart in response to a medical emergency near Crowley, Texas.

According to the pilot, while in a three- to four-foot hover above the helipad, the pilot verified “all pressure and temps normal.” The flight nurse, who was seated in the left front seat, obtained the destination coordinates from the communication center and entered them into the GPS. After the nurse and paramedic stated they were ready for takeoff, the pilot applied power for takeoff and, according to the pilot, “the collective power switch was applied to 102 percent at the same time.”

The pilot stated, “Just as we were going over the edge [of] the helipad, we started a slight climb but had not reached critical decision point. As the fuselage cleared the helipad, the engine-out warning horn came on accompanied by both yellow and red warning lights. The pilot aborted the takeoff and attempted to land back onto the helipad. During the attempted landing, one of the mainwheels struck a safety fence, causing the aircraft to roll over. The main rotor blades hit the surface and the helicopter came to rest on its right side on the helipad. The pilot then shut down both engines by turning off all fuel switches and turning the engine mode switches to the off position.

An FAA inspector who responded to the accident reported the main rotor blades were separated from the rotorhead and fragmented. The right side of the fuselage received minor damage.