Friday, August 4, 2017

Eurocopter AS-350B-3, N351SH, Soloy Helicopters LLC: Accident occurred August 03, 2017 in Delta Junction, Alaska

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

NTSB Identification: ANC17CA041 
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Thursday, August 03, 2017 in Delta Junction, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/22/2017
Aircraft: AIRBUS AS350, registration: N351SH
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The helicopter pilot reported that he was transporting a passenger to a remote drilling site where a tracked drilling unit was stationed. He reported that he landed into the wind, which necessitated descending over bordering trees into the drilling site. The helicopter touched down on the dirt, and upon lowering the collective, he reported that he heard a “bang,” and the helicopter slowly started to “pick up a ground wobble.” The pilot shut down the helicopter, and both occupants exited without further incident. 

A postaccident inspection revealed that the blue and red main rotor blades sustained substantial damage from impacting a black 1.5-inch steel frame attached to the tracked drilling unit, which is used to mount a canvas weather shelter for the drilling crews. The pilot reported that the steel frame was not visible to him from above as he was descending into the drilling site. The pilot further reported that he had made multiple landings at the drilling site in the past 3 months and that, with the previous landings, he had landed farther past the tracked drilling unit, and the steel frame was always behind the helicopter.

The pilot reported that there were no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation. 

The Federal Aviation Administration Helicopter Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-21A, 2012) discusses high and low reconnaissance procedures and states, in part:
The purpose of conducting a high reconnaissance is to determine direction and speed of the wind, a touchdown point, suitability of the landing area, approach and departure axes, and obstacles for both the approach and departure.

A low reconnaissance is accomplished during the approach to the landing area. When flying the approach, verify what was observed in the high reconnaissance, and check for anything new that may have been missed at a higher altitude, such as wires and their supporting structures (poles, towers, etc.), slopes, and small crevices.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from a steel frame attached to a tracked drilling unit. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to visually identify the steel frame during the reconnaissance process. 

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fairbanks, Alaska
Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses; Paris
Airbus Helicopters (Technical Advisor); Grand Prairie, Texas
Safran Helicopter Engines (Technical Advisor); Grand Prairie, Texas

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Operator: Soloy Helicopters LLC

Operator Does Business As: Soloy Helicopters LLC

http://registry.faa.gov/N351SH

NTSB Identification: ANC17CA041
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Thursday, August 03, 2017 in Delta Junction, AK
Aircraft: AIRBUS AS350, registration: N351SH
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The helicopter pilot reported that he was transporting a passenger to a remote drilling site, where a tracked drilling unit was stationed. He reported that he landed into the wind, which necessitated descending over bordering trees into the drilling site. The helicopter touched down on the dirt, and upon lowering the collective, he reported he heard a "bang" and the helicopter slowly started to "pick up a ground wobble." The pilot shutdown the helicopter and both occupants exited without further incident.

A postaccident inspection revealed that the blue and red main rotor blades sustained substantial damage from impacting a black 1.5-inch steel frame attached to the tracked drilling unit, which is used to mount a canvas weather shelter for the drilling crews. The pilot reported that the steel frame was not visible to him from above as he was descending into the drilling site. The pilot further reported that multiple landings have been made to the drilling site in the past 3 months, and that with the previous landings he landed further past the tracked drilling unit and the steel frame was always behind the helicopter.

The pilot reported that there were no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation. 

The Federal Aviation Administration Helicopter Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-21A, 2012) discusses high and low reconnaissance procedures and states in part:

The purpose of conducting a high reconnaissance is to determine direction and speed of the wind, a touchdown point, suitability of the landing area, approach and departure axes, and obstacles for both the approach and departure.

A low reconnaissance is accomplished during the approach to the landing area. When flying the approach, verify what was observed in the high reconnaissance, and check for anything new that may have been missed at a higher altitude, such as wires and their supporting structures (poles, towers, etc.), slopes, and small crevices.

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