Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Eurocopter EC-130, operated by Air Methods Corporation, N133HN: Accident occurred January 29, 2016 in Shoals, West Virginia

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Charleston, West Virginia

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


http://registry.faa.gov/N133HN

Location: Shoals, WV
Accident Number: ERA16LA098
Date & Time: 01/29/2016, 1303 EST
Registration: N133HN
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER FRANCE EC 130 B4
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Part(s) separation from AC
Injuries: 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled - Air Medical (Discretionary) 

On January 29, 2016, at 1303 eastern standard time, a Eurocopter France EC130 B4, N133HN, operated by Air Methods Corporation, was substantially damaged when the left rear entry door departed the airframe while airborne in the vicinity of Shoals, West Virginia. The commercial pilot and two medical flight crewmembers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The helicopter was operating on a company visual flight rules flight plan from Cabell Huntington Hospital Heliport (WV27), Huntington, West Virginia, to a helipad at Three Rivers Hospital, Louisa, Kentucky. The positioning flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135.

According to the pilot, about 5 minutes after takeoff and while in cruise flight at an airspeed of about 125 knots, he felt and heard an increase of wind in the cockpit. He scanned both front windows to see if they were ajar and, as he faced straight ahead, he heard and felt a rush of air, thinking that the left rear sliding door had opened. As the pilot turned to look, he heard a "whoosh" and saw what he thought was a clipboard depart the helicopter and angle away from the tail.

At that point, the pilot slowed the helicopter and instructed the specialty nurse to try and close the door. She seemed to be having some difficulty, so the pilot suggested that the door may have "locked back" and to use the lock release so she could slide the door forward to the closed position. After a few seconds, the specialty nurse announced that the door was missing, and that's when the pilot realized that the clipboard he saw was in fact the door.

With no abnormal flight characteristics, the pilot then diverted the helicopter to nearby Tri-State Airport (HTS), Huntington, West Virginia, and landed uneventfully. After shutdown, a visual inspection revealed damage to the left transmission hatch, one rotor blade, and the plastic sliding door guide on the left side baggage door.

The flight nurse also noted that she observed the specialty nurse slide and latch the door before takeoff. During the flight, when she heard a loud wind noise, she looked left to see that the door was open. That's when she heard the specialty nurse announce to the pilot that the door was gone.

An examination of the helicopter by a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector revealed one of the rotor blades were punctured from the leading edge to the trailing edge. The lower door track exhibited signs of "forced removal" of the attaching hardware. Both upper and lower track lips contained radial damage and missing paint. The middle door track exhibited similar damage. The plastic door stop bracket exhibited impact damage and portion of the stop was missing. An examination of the recovered door revealed the door showed signs of damage along the frame. The door stop was missing from the door and the upper rail arm was loose. The attachment fitting on the arm had chipped paint.

The detached left rear passenger door was recovered and examined by the airframe manufacturer under the supervision of the NTSB. The door's handle and latching mechanism looked and functioned normally, showed normal wear, and displayed no deformation around the brackets that held the latches or latch pins.

According to the helicopter's flight manual, the power on never exceed speed with all doors closed was 155 knots. With the left rear sliding door open and free to move, the never exceed speed decreased to 70 knots. The never exceed was 80 knots with the door locked in the open position and 110 knots with the door removed.

Pilot Information


Certificate: Commercial
Age: 51, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 09/17/2015
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  2806 hours (Total, all aircraft), 647 hours (Total, this make and model), 2805 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 24 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 5 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information


Aircraft Make: EUROCOPTER FRANCE
Registration: N133HN
Model/Series: EC 130 B4
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 7293
Landing Gear Type: Unknown
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 01/19/2016, AAIP
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 5350 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 2 Hours
Engines: 1 Turbo Shaft
Airframe Total Time: 1613 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Turbomeca
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: 2B1
Registered Owner: FIFTH THIRD EQUIPMENT FINANCE CO
Rated Power: 728 hp
Operator: Air Methods Corporation
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Commuter Air Carrier (135)
Operator Does Business As: Air Methods
Operator Designator Code: QMLA

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: HTS, 828 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1751 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 320°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 4500 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 10 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 270°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.95 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 2°C / -7°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Huntington, WV (WV27)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Destination: Louisa, KY (None)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 1257 EST
Type of Airspace: Class E

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 3 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 None
Latitude, Longitude:  38.342778, -82.474722 (est)

NTSB Identification: ERA16LA098 
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, January 29, 2016 in Shoals, WV
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER FRANCE EC 130 B4, registration: N133HN
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On January 29, 2016, at 1303 eastern standard time, a Eurocopter France EC130 B4, N133HN, operated by Air Methods Corporation, was substantially damaged when the left rear entry door departed the airframe while airborne in the vicinity of Shoals, West Virginia. The commercial pilot and two medical flight crewmembers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The helicopter was operating on a company visual flight rules flight plan from Cabell Huntington Hospital Heliport (WV27), Huntington, West Virginia, to a helipad at Three Rivers Hospital, Louisa, Kentucky. The positioning flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135.

According to the pilot, due to weight limitations, only the flight nurse and the specialty nurse were going, and the medic stayed behind. After a flight briefing and exterior check, the pilot took his seat and began his interior checks while the two nurses finished their walk around inspection. After they completed their inspection, they took their seats with the flight nurse in the right rear seat and the specialty nurse in the left rear seat, behind the pilot. A "normal" startup occurred and the helicopter departed WV27 at 1258.

In cruise flight, about 5 minutes after takeoff, the pilot felt and heard an increase of wind in the cockpit. He scanned both front windows to see if they were ajar and, as he faced straight ahead, he heard and felt a rush of air, thinking that the left rear sliding door had opened. As the pilot turned to look, he heard a "whoosh" and saw what he thought was a clipboard depart the helicopter and angle away from the tail (about the 7 o'clock position).

At that point, the pilot slowed the helicopter and instructed the specialty nurse to try and close the door. She seemed to be having some difficulty, so the pilot suggested that the door may have "locked back" and to use the lock release so she could slide the door forward to the closed position. After a few seconds, the specialty nurse announced that the door was missing, and that's when the pilot realized that the clipboard he saw was in fact the door.

With no abnormal flight characteristics, the pilot then diverted the helicopter to nearby Tri-State Airport (HTS), Huntington, West Virginia, and landed uneventfully. After shutdown, a visual inspection revealed damage to the left transmission hatch, one rotor blade, and the plastic sliding door guide on the left side baggage door.

The flight nurse also noted that she observed the specialty nurse slide and latch the door before takeoff. During the flight, when she heard a loud wind noise, she looked left to see that the door was open. After the specialty nurse received instructions from the pilot about unlocking the door ("when it opens, it locks for safety") the specialty nurse looked back and stated, "it's gone."

According to a maintenance log notation, on September 20, 2015, maintenance was completed in response to, "left rear sliding door would not open."

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