Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fairchild Hiller FH-1100, Helicopter Connection LLC, N4035G: Fatal accident occurred October 06, 2016 in Lino Lakes, Anoka County, Minnesota


NTSB Identification: CEN17FA012
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 06, 2016 in Lino Lakes, MN
Aircraft: FAIRCHILD HILLER FH 1100, registration: N4035G
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 6, 2016, about 1645 central daylight time, a Fairchild Hiller FH 1100 helicopter, N4035G, impacted terrain during an in-flight breakup and collision with terrain while maneuvering near Lino Lakes, Minnesota. The cockpit and cabin areas were consumed by a post-crash fire. The airline transport pilot and his passenger sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter was destroyed during the impact and fire. The helicopter was registered to Helicopter Connection LLC. and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which did not operate on a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Anoka County-Blaine Airport (ANE), near Minneapolis, Minnesota, about 1620.

In preliminary information given to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), several witnesses said the helicopter was maneuvering from an east bound heading to a north bound heading. They heard a loud noise, saw pieces separate from the helicopter, saw the rotor blade separate, and saw a fire.

The 48-year-old pilot held an FAA airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane multi-engine land rating. He held commercial pilot privileges in airplane single engine land, airplane single engine sea, and rotorcraft helicopter. The pilot held a flight Instructor certificate with airplane single and multi-engine land and instrument airplane ratings. He held a flight engineer certificate with a turbojet rating. The pilot held a FAA special issuance first class medical certificate, dated August 16, 2016, with the following limitations: Must wear corrective lenses. Not valid for any class after 02/28/2017. The pilot reported that he had accumulated 15,000 hours of total flight time and 400 hours of flight time in the six months before the exam. The last entry in the pilot's logbook was dated September 4, 2015. The pilot accumulated 55.5 hours of total flight time in a helicopter at the time of that entry.

N4035G, was registered as a Fairchild-Hiller FH 1100 helicopter with serial number 502. According to FAA airworthiness records, the helicopter was issued a FAA standard airworthiness certificate on October 20, 1982, and was certified for normal category operations. The accident helicopter's data plate was not located in the wreckage. However, according to logbook records, the engine's serial number was listed as CAE823229. The information on the installed engine's data plate indicated the engine was an Allison (Rolls Royce) C20B engine with serial number CAE823229F, which powered a two-bladed, teetering rotor system. According to the type certificate data sheet, it had a maximum gross weight of 2,750 lbs and could be configured to accommodate a pilot, another pilot or passenger in the cockpit, and three passengers in the cabin. The last recorded annual inspection was completed on June 18, 2016, and the endorsement indicated that the helicopter had accumulated 501.7 hours of total time.

At 1645, the recorded weather at ANE was: Wind 010 degrees at 6 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition overcast clouds at 6,000 feet: temperature 15 degrees C; dew point 6 degrees C; altimeter 29.95 inches of mercury.

The main wreckage was found resting on its right side about 1,600 feet and 130 degrees from the intersection of Main Street and Sunset Avenue. Its resting heading was about 020 degrees magnetic. The wreckage found furthest south was a section of composite material, which was about 2,775 feet and 163 degrees from the same intersection. The heading and distance from the composite material to the main wreckage was about 15 degrees and 1,675 feet. Along this path, major components were found that included the floor mats, a section of white interior material, an exhaust stack, exhaust duct, a section of the tailboom with danger and an arrow printed on it, the engine cowl, a section of exterior metal with the rotating beacon, a seat cushion, a section of the tail that included the tail rotor and its gearbox, and the main wreckage at the end of this path. However, the separated main rotor blades and hub were found east of this debris path about 500 feet south of the main wreckage in a pond. All major components were accounted for at the scene.

The cockpit and cabin were deformed, discolored, charred, and melted consistent with a ground fire and impact damage. Cyclic, collective, and tail rotor control continuity could not be established due to this sustained damage to the cockpit and cabin areas. All observed control discontinuities were consistent with overload or thermal damage.

Engine, transmission, and tailrotor driveshafts exhibited separations. All observed separations were consistent with torsional overload and overload. Circumferential witness marks were found on the exterior of the tailrotor driveshaft.

The main transmission exhibited sections with thermal melting damage, soot colored discoloration, and deformation. The separation surface at the top of the mast exhibited overload fractures. The mast could not be rotated by hand.

The main rotor blades and hub that were recovered from the pond exhibited overload fractures on its mast's separation surface. Examination of the main rotor system and components outside the main wreckage did not exhibit soot colored discoloration or thermal damage.

Examination of the engine revealed that some compressor blades were missing. The observed remaining compressor blades were bent opposite the direction of rotation.

The coroner was asked to arrange for an autopsy to be performed on the pilot and take samples for toxicological testing.

A section of the transmission's mast and the section of mast from the main rotor hub were removed and were sent to the National Transportation Safety Board's Materials Laboratory for detailed examination.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

The man and woman killed last week in a helicopter crash in Lino Lakes have been positively identified as Matthew Hayes, 48, and Deborah Smith, 47.

The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office released the identities Monday afternoon. Both died of injuries from the crash late Thursday afternoon.

The crash is being investigated by the Anoka County sheriff’s office and federal agencies. Based on preliminary information, officials believe Hayes, of Minneapolis, piloted the helicopter, departing from Anoka County Airport in Blaine with Smith, of Blaine, as his passenger.

The helicopter, a 1982 Fairchild Hiller FH-1100, crashed shortly after 5:30 p.m. in an open field near Sunset Avenue and Main Street, not far from a residential neighborhood. It had been in flight earlier in the day with no issues reported.

LINO LAKES, Minn. - The Anoka County Sheriff Office confirms that two people lost their lives in a helicopter crash in Lino Lakes Thursday night.

The chopper went down in a field around 5:30 p.m. near Main Street and Sunset Avenue. 

Authorities say the size of the impact area plus a large fireball of the debris that followed made it impossible for anyone to survive the crash. The trail of debris from the initial impact site was several hundred yards long.

The pilot was a 48-year-old man from Minneapolis and his passenger was a 47-year-old woman from Blaine. Their names are being withheld until family notification. 

"It landed in an open field but we're very close to dense residential neighborhoods," said Anoka County Sheriff's Cmdr. Paul Sommer. 

No one on the ground was hurt.

Witnesses said they saw the helicopter traveling in a northeast direction before suddenly experiencing distress. Sommer says those near the scene reported hearing a loud "pop" or "explosion" before seeing the helicopter's blade stop turning and the helicopter fall from the sky. 

Officials say based on the amount of debris and its placement, it seems the helicopter was breaking apart as it fell from the sky. 

Others, like Shane Chatleain says he didn't just hear an explosion before the crash, he felt it.

“Shook the house, rattled the house pretty significantly," he said.

When he ran to his bedroom window, he says he could still see debris filling the air.

“I did see the back portion of (the helicopter) land in the field over here," Chatleain said. "It was just spinning and it was on fire and it landed, so I’ve got a feeling it was part of the explosion that started it on fire and then landed over here.”

The Anoka County Sheriff's Office and other first responders arrived quickly, but there was little they could do.

"This is a horrible tragedy," said Cmdr. Sommer. "I can’t begin to describe what that scene looks like. I guess I can leave it at that.”

The preliminary investigation revealed the helicopter was a 1982 Fairchild Hiller FH-1100 and that it had been flying earlier that day without any issues. 

Authorities are asking that if anyone finds debris from the wreckage to turn it into investigators.

As the FAA joins the investigation late Thursday night, many neighbors are relieved they narrowly missed such a tragedy and heartbroken they couldn't do more.

“Your first impression was to try to run out there and try to help," Chagleain said. "But the amount of fire that there was you didn’t feel like you could do much about it.”


Multiple people were killed in a helicopter crash in Lino Lakes, according to the Anoka County Sheriff's Office.

The area is near Sunset Avenue and Main Street. Emergency crews were called to the scene around 5:30 p.m.

"What the officers discovered, a helicopter crashed in the field," said Commander Paul Sommer, Anoka County Sheriff's Office. "There is basically wreckage. There's not a lot I can tell you about the crash scene. There's a large fireball, wreckage." 

"Witnesses reported that they saw the helicopter. They heard a "pop" or a "bang" and that the rotor appeared to stop. The helicopter then just dropped out of the sky," said Sommer.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash. It released the following statement:

The FAA and NTSB are investigating the crash of a helicopter today near Lino Lakes, MN. Local search and rescue will have more information about the scene and the people on board. Our investigations take several months or a year or more to complete. Updates will be posted on the NTSB.

"We don't know what kind of aircraft this was. We can't identify much based on what remains in the field. It's basically charred up debris," said Sommer.

Investigators say it is fortunate that the helicopter crashed in an open field.

"We're very close to dense residential neighborhoods nearby here," said Sommer.

The Anoka County Sheriff's Office is asking that if anyone finds debris from the helicopter to turn it into investigators.

There was a small landing strip about a mile away from the crash site. 
Investigators don't know if the aircraft had taken off from the strip or if it was trying to land there.

"This is a horrible tragedy," said Sommer. "I can't begin to describe what that scene looks like."

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Authorities reported “multiple fatalities” Thursday night in a helicopter crash in Lino Lakes, in the northeast metro.

The helicopter crashed in a field off Main Street and Sunset Avenue near some homes at about 5:30 p.m., prompting several calls to 911, said Anoka County sheriff’s Cmdr. Paul Sommer. He said there are “multiple fatalities” in an area of “significant wreckage.”

“There is not a lot I can tell you about the crash scene, but there’s a large fireball,” he said Thursday night at the scene. “We cannot identify much. It’s basically charred-up debris.”

Authorities could not immediately tell how many people are dead or what kind of helicopter it was, he said. No one on the ground was hurt.

Witnesses said they saw the helicopter flying, heard a pop, saw the rotary blade stop turning, then saw the helicopter drop from the sky.

Cmdr. Paul Sommer's news conference about the helicopter crash in Lino Lakes.
 Video (03:28): Anoka County Cmdr. Paul Sommer on crash: 'Large fireball, charred-up debris'
Smoke billowed in the area following the crash.

Authorities have asked residents to call Lino Lakes police at 763-427-1212 if they find any unusual objects in their yards that might be debris from the helicopter. Do not pick up or move the objects, they cautioned.

It was the second helicopter crash in the region in three weeks.

Last month, three people were injured when a North Medical Center helicopter went down on the east side of Lake Winona en route to the airport in Alexandria, Minn. There were no patients on board. That accident is still being investigated.

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