EASA has issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD), effective November 9, in the wake of the fatal October 27 crash of a Leonardo AW169 in Leicester, UK, that killed all five aboard. The AD mandates the inspection of all AW169s and AW189s for correct installation of the tail rotor servo-actuator. The AD was extended to AW189s as the tail rotor flight control system on it is similar to the one on the AW169. The inspections are to take place within five flight hours or 24 hours of the effective date of the AD, whichever comes first.
If anomalies are detected then corrective action is to be taken per Leonardo Alert Service Bulletins (ASBs) 169-120 and 189-213; if none are detected then, before next flight, a paint mark is to be applied on the nut from the rod end to the hinge bracket element in accordance with applicable ASB instructions. The results of all inspections are to be reported to Leonardo within seven days.
In the accident that prompted the AD, a 2016 AW169, G-VSKP, S/N 69018, crashed shortly after it lifted off from the center field pitch of King Power Stadium in Leicester City, UK. Eyewitness reports said the helicopter struggled to gain altitude to clear the stadium and then spiraled down rapidly into an adjacent parking lot, where it was consumed by a post-crash fire. Further eyewitness accounts and photography show pieces of the tail rotor assembly being shed before the aircraft entered a spin. The accident remains under investigation by UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) and EASA stressed that the “root cause” of the accident remains to be identified and the “technical investigation is still ongoing.”