Thursday, September 29, 2016

External Load Event (Rotorcraft): McDonnell Douglas 500N, N5232G; accident occurred September 02, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii

Safety Recommendations written by Pilot

Safety Recommendation written by Operator

Excerpt from the Operator's 'Technical Rescue Standard Operating Guidelines'

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Honolulu, Hawaii

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Honolulu, HI
Accident Number: WPR16LA175
Date & Time: 09/02/2016, 0945 HST
Registration: N5232G
Aircraft Damage: None
Defining Event: External load event (Rotorcraft)
Injuries: 1 Serious, 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Public Aircraft 

On September 2, 2016, about 0945 Hawaii-Aleutian standard time, a McDonnell Douglas 500N helicopter, N5232G, was involved in an accident near Honolulu, Hawaii. The pilot, one crewmember and a passenger were not injured. One crewmember was seriously injured. The helicopter was not damaged. The helicopter was being operated as a public aircraft.

The pilot reported that, after being dispatched to a hiker in distress, he took off from the airport and flew towards the hiking trail lookout where fire department personnel were already present. He flew over the lookout and surveyed the area, observing a utility pole on the east side of the lookout. In addition, he estimated the wind was about 10-20 knots from the east. The pilot landed the helicopter in a nearby landing zone and prepared the helicopter for a rescue net extraction. The pilot then took off and after flying to the injured hiker, the long line was extended to about 75-100 ft and the injured hiker and a firefighter climbed into the net. The pilot reported that as the helicopter started to ascend, a strong gust of wind unexpectedly caused the helicopter to ascend too quickly and move laterally toward the utility pole. The pilot attempted to stop the swing of the long line, but the net impacted the utility pole. The firefighter was electrocuted and fell from the net about 20 ft to the ground.

At the time of the accident, the Hawaiian Islands were under the influence of the tropical easterly winds and under a Hurricane Watch. The surface observations indicated northeast winds of 14-20 knots with peak gusts of 28 knots during the time surrounding the accident. The northeast winds would produce downslope conditions and unfavorable conditions in the Diamond Head area. The National Weather Service had an AIRMET for moderate turbulence below 10,000 ft to the lee of higher terrain due to the stronger winds. The closest upper air sounding taken in the hour indicated little change in wind direction with height and wind speeds of 30 knots immediately above the surface.

In the operator's "Technical Rescue Standard Operating Guidelines" it states "Team members and the pilot shall agree that the area they are being inserted into is safe and free of obstructions…" 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 51, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Helicopter
Toxicology Performed:No 
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 05/02/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 07/23/2015
Flight Time:  3582 hours (Total, all aircraft), 2282 hours (Total, this make and model), 2882 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 28 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 13 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N5232G
Model/Series: 500N
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1994
Amateur Built:No 
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: LN075
Landing Gear Type:High Skid 
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/30/2016, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3350 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 73 Hours
Engines: 1 Turbo Shaft
Airframe Total Time: 9380 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Rolls Royce
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: C20R
Rated Power: 450 hp
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: HNL, 13 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0953 HST
Direction from Accident Site:296° 
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 2500 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 4800 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 15 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction:50° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.02 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 19°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Honolulu, HI (HNL)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Honolulu, HI (HNL)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 0930 HST
Type of Airspace: Unknown

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious, 2 None
Aircraft Damage: None
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious, 3 None
Latitude, Longitude: 21.256111, -157.806944 (est)

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NTSB Identification: WPR16LA175
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, September 02, 2016 in Honolulu, HI
Aircraft: MCDONNELL DOUGLAS HELICOPTER 500, registration: N5232G
Injuries: 1 Serious, 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 September 2, 2016, about 0945 Hawaii Standard Time, a McDonnell Douglas 500N helicopter, N5232G, was in an initial climb after rescuing a hiker and firefighter from the Diamond Head state trail in Honolulu, Hawaii, when the firefighter fell from the rescue net. Two crew members and one passenger were uninjured, and one crew member sustained serious injuries. The helicopter sustained no damage. The helicopter was registered to, and operated by the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii, as a public use flight operated under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed about the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated from the Honolulu International Airport (HNL) about 0935. 

The operator reported that the pilot flew the helicopter from the airport to pick up an injured hiker and a firefighter from a nearby trail. A net that was attached to an approximate 75 foot line was lowered, and the hiker and firefighter climbed in. As the helicopter was flying away from the site, the firefighter fell from the net and impacted the ground about 25 feet below. 

Video evidence revealed the net struck a pole just prior to the firefighter falling from the net.

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