Friday, April 21, 2017

Robinson R44 Raven II, N899GB, registered to Aero Specialty Finance LLC and operated by Air Florida Helicopter Charters Inc: Accident occurred April 20, 2017 in Orlando, Orange County, Florida

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

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

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aero Specialty Finance LLC:

NTSB Identification: ERA17LA163

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, April 20, 2017 in Orlando, FL
Aircraft: ROBINSON R44, registration: N899GB
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 April 20, 2017, about 1030 eastern daylight time, a Robinson R44 II, N899GB, registered to Aero Specialty Finance, LLC, and operated by Air Florida Helicopter Charters, Inc., was substantially damaged during a hard landing near Orlando, Florida. The commercial pilot and two passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that originated about 5 minutes earlier from Air Orlando Heliport (2DF7), Orlando, Florida. The revenue sightseeing flight was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The pilot stated that while flying southbound at 600 ft, he heard and felt a loud "pop" that was accompanied by a yaw to the right, vibration, and engine roughness. He entered an autorotative descent to the median between two roads, and upon touchdown, the helicopter began to roll forward. He applied aft cyclic input, and the main rotor blades contacted the tailboom. Once the helicopter was stable on the ground, he secured it, and then had the passengers evacuate after the main rotor blades came to rest. 

ORLANDO, Fla. - A tour helicopter carrying three people lost power in midair Thursday morning and made an emergency landing near a busy Orlando intersection, officials said.

The pilot, who has been flying for 11 years, said the helicopter was 600 feet in the air when he heard a loud popping noise and the chopper lost power.

"I know the pilot said he heard a loud pop, and then he lost power and he brought the helicopter down to a safe landing," Orlando Fire District Chief Curtis Elsis said.

The pilot landed the helicopter in a grassy median next to South Kirkman Road, just north of Sand Lake Road, according to Orlando Fire District Chief Curtis Elsis.

In the 911 call released by Orlando County Fire Rescue the dispatcher had trouble understanding where the helicopter landed.

“So they’re on the landing pad? But they did a rough landing?” the dispatcher asked.

“No they’re not on a landing pad,” the caller said. “There is no landing pad, no nothing.”

No injuries were reported.

"Everyone is doing perfectly fine," Elsis said. "The pilot did a fantastic job."

A  pilot and two tourists visiting from England were inside the helicopter at the time of the landing.

The tail of the helicopter snapped during the hard landing.

A stretch of Kirkman Road was closed from Sand Lake Road to Carrier Drive. It reopened a short time later.

The FAA will investigate.

The helicopter is operated by Air Florida Helicopter Charters Inc., located 2 and a half miles away on International Drive. Officials there said the pilot made the right call.

"We are extremely happy and grateful that thanks to our pilot's fast reaction and excellent professional skills nobody was hurt today," Lyuba Mavrodieva of Air Florida Helicopter Charters Inc. said in a statement. "Our customers were brought back to our location in good spirits and health."

Air Florida Helicopters Inc. stopped tours Thursday but it plans to reopen Friday.

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