The NTSB has concluded that the probable cause of a fatal June 2019 helicopter air ambulance crash at the Brainerd (Minnesota) Airport (BRD) was the result of pilot spatial disorientation and loss of control during a night-time instrument approach. Both the pilot and flight nurse were killed, while the flight paramedic survived with serious injuries.
According to the NTSB, the accident occurred on a repositioning flight. The 2008 Leonardo AW109S, operated by North Memorial Air Care, entered into a spin near the runway and hit terrain. Weather conditions at the time of the accident were one-quarter mile visibility with a 200-foot ceiling in fog.
The NTSB’s final report notes, “After descending below the DH (decision height), with a power setting below 30 percent torque, the helicopter’s pitch attitude increased from -3 degrees (nose-down) to +20 degrees (nose-up), its airspeed decreased from 100 to 50 knots, and the pilot declared a missed approach…The pilot’s increased collective input and the helicopter’s decreasing speed resulted in an increase of torque, and the helicopter entered a right rotational yaw that accelerated into a spin.”