Accidents: May 2017

 - May 4, 2017, 6:00 AM

Preliminary Reports

Air Medical King Air Forced Down after Losing Electrics and an Engine

Beechcraft King Air C90A, Feb. 14, 2017, Rattan, Okla.—A Beechcraft King Air C90A twin turboprop operated by EagleMed was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power in cruise flight near Rattan, Okla. The pilot and two medical crewmembers were not injured. The Part 135 air medical flight was on an IFR flight plan in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) from McAlester Regional Airport (MLC), McAlester, Okla., to McCurtain County Regional Airport (4O4), in Idabel, Okla.

The pilot reported that 15 minutes after takeoff, in cruise flight at 7,000 feet msl, the airplane experienced two "quick" electrical power fluctuations. It then lost all electrical power. The pilot set a general course for better weather conditions as noted in the preflight weather briefing but had no instruments for navigation. While he was looking for a hole in the clouds to descend through under visual conditions, the left engine lost power. The pilot ultimately located a field and executed a single-engine precautionary landing during which the nose gear collapsed and the radome separated, substantially damaging the right engine mount and firewall.

Bell 429 Lost in Swamp near Shreveport

Bell 429, Feb. 15, 2017, Shreveport, La.—A private pilot and his passenger were killed after a midnight run in IFR weather conditions in a Bell 429 when they hit trees and mud, finally sinking in the water at Wallace Lake near Shreveport, La. The flight originated from a field in Bossier City, La., 15 minutes after midnight and was en route to Center Municipal Airport (F17), in Center, Texas.

The wreckage was located at the southern end of Wallace Lake the next day. The first impact point consisted of tree strikes followed by a debris field 200 feet long in a muddy area of the lake. All major helicopter components were located at the accident site. The helicopter was documented on scene and recovered to a secure facility.

MD500 Hits Ridgeline in New Zealand

MD500E, Feb. 19, 2017, Raetihi, New Zealand—During an external load operation an MD500E operated by Precision Helicopters struck a ridgeline in the Waimarino Forest near Raetihi, New Zealand, substantially damaging the helicopter and seriously injuring the pilot, the sole occupant. The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Government of New Zealand.

Puerto Rican AS350 Damaged on Autorotation

AS350B3, Feb. 21, 2017, San Juan, Puerto Rico—An Airbus Helicopters AS350B3 operated by a commercial pilot with a flight instructor was substantially damaged from an engine fire during a practice autorotation at Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport (TJIG) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. No one was injured. The instructional flight was conducted in VMC and no flight plan was filed.

The flight instructor told investigators that during recovery from the last of several 180-degree autorotations he noticed that the engine rpm continued to increase and exceeded limitations, followed by a vibration in the helicopter. He immediately landed. After the landing, a mechanic told him that the helicopter's engine was on fire. The flight instructor completed the engine fire checklist and exited the helicopter.

The commercial pilot said that during the flare at the end of the autorotation, he heard the engine over-rev, followed by an Nr aural warning, followed by seeing a fire warning light illuminate on the instrument panel. After landing, the commercial pilot exited the helicopter with a fire extinguisher and attempted to put out the fire.

An FAA inspector found that the fire damaged the engine deck support structure and a portion of the tail-rotor drive shaft. Investigators retained a vehicle engine multi display (VEMD), digital engine control unit (DECU), hydro-mechanical unit (HMU) and adjusted valve for examination.

Fish-spotting MD500 Damaged in Water Landing

MD500, Feb. 22, 2017, Guam—An autorotation to a hard splashdown in the Pacific Ocean near Guam substantially damaged an MD500 and seriously injured its pilot and passenger. The aerial observation flight supporting a Japanese fishing boat was conducted in day VMC.

FAA registration and airworthiness documentation indicated that the helicopter was manufactured in 1969 as a Hughes Helicopters military aircraft, and was powered by a Rolls-Royce (Allison) 250-series turboshaft.

According to a written report sent to the NTSB by a representative of the operator, the helicopter had been airborne for 30 minutes, cruising at 1,000 feet above the ocean, when the pilot noticed that a generator light was illuminated. The pilot applied friction to the collective control to free one hand to reset the generator switch, when he "felt the helicopter drop suddenly." The pilot noticed that the main rotor rpm was "at the bottom of the green" arc. He attempted an autorotation but the helicopter struck the water in what the operator's representative termed a "hard landing." The main rotor blades severed the tailboom, but the helicopter remained upright and floating on its pontoons.

MD-83 Overruns Runway

Boeing MD-83, March 8, 2017, Ypsilanti, Mich.—The right elevator of an Ameristar Air Cargo Boeing MD-83 jammed on takeoff, causing its pilots to abort a takeoff and subsequently run off the runway at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Mich., slightly injuring one passenger. The Michigan State University’s men’s basketball team, the Wolverines, was on board.

The airplane was accelerating for takeoff on Runway 23L when the crew rejected the takeoff at 173 knots. While decelerating, the airplane overran the end of the runway, breaking through the ILS and approach lighting systems and a perimeter fence. It crossed a road and came to a halt with collapsed nose gear and the main gear in a ditch.

Post-accident examination found movement of the control column in the cockpit free and correct and elevator control tabs moving on command. When investigators tried to move the elevator surfaces by hand, the left elevator moved normally, but the right elevator was jammed in a trailing‑edge-down position that forced the nose down. The right elevator geared tab inboard pushrod linkage was found damaged, restricting movement of the right elevator surface but allowing movement of the control tab.

After the damaged components were removed, the elevator could be moved by hand, the NTSB said. The safety Board’s examination of the flight data recorder data showed that during the taxi and takeoff roll, the left elevator moved normally, but the right elevator did not move. During takeoff roll, the left elevator began a large airplane nose-up movement (consistent with rotation) at 152 knots and continued for five seconds to about 166 knots. There was no change in the airplane pitch attitude during this time. The airplane data then are consistent with the takeoff rejected takeoff procedure.

Cessna Citation 500 with Sierra Eagle Wing Conversion Destroyed

Cessna Citation 500/Sierra Eagle conversion, March 24, 2017, Marietta, Ga.—A single-pilot Cessna Citation 500 with a Sierra Eagle wing conversion was destroyed and its pilot, the sole occupant, killed when it descended uncontrolled from 3,800 feet to hit the ground in Marietta, Ga., just east of Cobb County Airport (KRYY) and 14 nm north of the destination airport, Atlanta-Fulton County Airport. The flight departed Cincinnati Municipal Airport, Ohio, at 6:12 p.m. local time and climbed to the cruising altitude of 23,000 feet. According to ADS-B data, the pilot started a descent at 6:59 p.m. and the aircraft reached 3,100 feet at 7:16 p.m. The flight then climbed again to 3,800 feet for about five minutes. The last ADS-B data point recorded by FlightAware showed the aircraft at 55 knots in a descent at 3,000 feet less than 700 feet (200 m) from the accident site.

The NTSB reported that the pilot radioed during the accident flight that he was having a problem with his autopilot.


TBM Departs with Wing Contamination, Pilot Loses Control

Socata TBM 700, Feb. 27, 2017, Bellingham, Wash.—The Socata TBM 700 stalled shortly after liftoff from Bellingham Airport (KBLI) and crashed onto the general aviation ramp in a left-wing-down attitude. The pilot told investigators he departed the airport with a "light accumulation of wet snow" on the wings. During the takeoff roll, the pilot noted the snow "sloughing off" the wings as the airspeed increased. Subsequently, during the climb 150 feet above the ground, the airplane yawed to the left, and he attempted to recover using right aileron. He reported that he "could see a stall forming" so he lowered the nose and reduced power to idle. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and left wing.

The pilot reported that there were no pre-accident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

A review of recorded data from the automated weather observation station, located on the airport, revealed that 27 minutes before the accident the wind was 011 degrees at 8 knots, half mile visibility; moderate snow, freezing fog, sky condition broken at 500 feet agl and overcast at 1,500 feet agl. The airplane departed Runway 16.

FAA Advisory Circular AC 135-17, states: "Test data indicate that ice, snow or frost formations having thickness and surface roughness similar to medium or coarse sandpaper on the leading edge and upper surfaces of a wing can reduce wing lift by as much as 30 percent and increase drag by 40 percent." The TBM 700 Pilot’s Operating Handbook expressly forbids taking off with any ice or snow contamination on the wings.


AS350B3e Crashed after Preflight Check Depleted Hydraulic Fluid

AS350B3e, July 3, 2015, Summit Medical Center Heliport, Frisco, Colo.—A preflight hydraulic check, which depleted hydraulic pressure in the tail rotor hydraulic circuit; a lack of salient alerting to the pilot that hydraulic pressure was not restored before takeoff (that might have cued the pilot to his failure to reset the yaw servo hydraulic switch to its correct position); and an incorrect yaw servo hydraulic switch setting during the preflight hydraulic check caused the crash of an Airbus Helicopters AS350B3e operated by Air Methods, according to the NTSB. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to perform a hover check after liftoff. The NTSB blamed the severity of the injuries on the helicopter’s fuel system, which was not crash resistant.

The pilot lifted the AS350 off from the Summit Medical Center Heliport, in Frisco, Colo., and the helicopter crashed in a parking lot, killing the pilot and seriously injuring two flight nurses. The helicopter was destroyed. Surveillance videos captured the liftoff; there was no hover check (SOP for the AS350), and shortly thereafter the helicopter yawed to the left and rotated counterclockwise several times before sinking and hitting a recreational vehicle in the parking lot.

The helicopter, manufactured in March 2013, was not subject to the improved crashworthiness requirements regarding fuel systems from November 1994 because it was certified according to regulations from December 1977.

The helicopter did not have a cockpit alert indicating loss of hydraulic boost to the pedal controls as per a service bulletin for the AS350 series.

The NTSB concluded there is a need to change the tail rotor flight controls of AS350-series helicopters with a dual hydraulic system to ensure pedal control hydraulic assistance and to mitigate pilot error during hydraulic system checks. It also noted that there is a need for crash-resistant fuel systems for helicopters not covered by the November 1994 fuel system crashworthiness requirements.