Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Robinson R44, N97UP, MF Helicopters LLC: Accident occurred August 14, 2017 in Westby, Vernon County, Wisconsin

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

Location: Westby, WI
Accident Number: GAA17CA491
Date & Time: 08/14/2017, 1315 CDT
Registration: N97UP
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural

Analysis

The helicopter pilot reported that, during an agricultural application flight, he performed a "high…[reconnaissance]" pass over the field and observed houses, tree lines, and power lines surrounding the field. He added that he descended for the first pass, about 70 mph and 100 to 150 ft above ground level, and as he approached the end of the field, he "suddenly became aware of two [additional] large power lines stretched out in front of [him] at eye level and closing fast." He further added that he "instinctively pulled up on the collective and back on the cyclic," and the fuselage cleared the wire, but suddenly there was a "violent lurch" when the tail rotor contacted the wire. Subsequently, the helicopter started to "spin out of control," the pilot braced for impact, and the helicopter impacted the terrain.

The fuselage, tailboom, and main rotor sustained substantial damage.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to see and avoid power lines while maneuvering at low altitude.

Findings

Personnel issues
Monitoring environment - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Tower/antenna (incl guy wires) - Awareness of condition (Cause)
Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying
Low altitude operation/event (Defining event)
Loss of control in flight
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT) 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 34, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/18/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 03/14/2016
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 986 hours (Total, all aircraft), 820 hours (Total, this make and model), 930 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 250 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 190 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 6 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)
  
Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: ROBINSON HELICOPTER
Registration: N97UP
Model/Series: R44 UNDESIGNATED
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1996
Amateur Built:  No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 0237
Landing Gear Type: Skid;
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 03/31/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 5353 Hours
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: O-540-F1B5
Registered Owner: MF HELICOPTERS LLC.
Rated Power: 260 hp
Operator: MF HELICOPTERS LLC.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: NONE
Observation Time: 1315 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 0°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C
Lowest Ceiling: Broken
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 120°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 
Visibility (RVV): 
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: EAST TROY, WI (57C)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Westby, WI (NONE)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0720 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G
  
Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 43.660278, -90.861111 (est) 

Preventing Similar Accidents 

Preventing Obstacle Collisions in Agricultural Operations

Accidents involving collisions with obstacles, including poles, wires, guy wires, meteorological evaluation towers, or trees, are among the most common types of agricultural aircraft accidents. Some collisions involved obstacles that the pilots did not see (even during survey flights), but others involved obstacles that were known to the pilot and/or had characteristics that would make them visibly conspicuous.

Agricultural pilots should do the following:

Maintain a quick-reference document (paper or electronic) at the operations base that contains field maps, charts, photographs, and details of all known obstacles.
Frequently review current aeronautical charts for information about obstacles.

Before leaving the ground, spend time becoming familiar with all available information about the target field and programming navigation equipment. Such preflight action can help reduce the potential for confusion or distraction in flight.

Conduct aerial surveys of the target field but do not rely solely on an aerial survey to identify potential obstacles.

Conduct regular ground surveys of fields. Some towers can be erected in hours, and obstacles can change since you last worked that field. Speak with farmers and land owners to raise awareness about obstacle hazards.

When possible, use ground crews. They may be in a better position to see certain obstacles and help you ensure that your aircraft remains clear of them.
Watch for shadows and irregularities in growth patterns to help identify obstacles. Use GPS and other technology to maintain awareness of obstacle locations.
Be aware that workload, fatigue, sun glare, and distractions in the cockpit can adversely affect your ability to see, avoid, or remember obstacles. Heavier loads and higher density altitudes can affect the performance of your aircraft.

The National Agricultural Aviation Association's Professional Aerial Applicators' Support System reminds pilots that, when ferrying an aircraft or transitioning between sites, flying above 500 feet reduces obstacle collision risks: 'Ferry Above Five and Stay Alive.'

See http://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-alerts/documents/SA_035.pdf for additional resources.

The NTSB presents this information to prevent recurrence of similar accidents. Note that this should not be considered guidance from the regulator, nor does this supersede existing FAA Regulations (FARs).

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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


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

MF Helicopters LLC:  http://registry.faa.gov/N97UP

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA491
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Monday, August 14, 2017 in Westby, WI
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44, registration: N97UP
Injuries: 1 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, during an aerial application flight, he performed a "high recon [reconnaissance]" pass over the field and observed houses, tree lines, and power lines surrounding the field. He added that he descended for the first pass, about 70 mph and 100 to 150 ft. above ground, and as he approached the end of the field, he "suddenly became aware of two [additional] large power lines stretched out in front of [him] at eye level and closing fast." He further added that, he "instinctively pulled up on the collective and back on the cyclic" and the fuselage cleared the wire, but suddenly there was a "violent lurch" when the tail rotor contacted the wire. Subsequently, the helicopter started to "spin out of control," the pilot braced for impact, and the helicopter impacted the terrain.

The fuselage, tail boom, and main rotor sustained substantial damage. 

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation.




An Illinois man piloting a helicopter spraying crops near Westby escaped injury Monday when the aircraft crashed in a field.

The crash happened at about 1 p.m. just west of the Nordic Lanes bowling center, Westby police said.

The crash was the result of the rear tail rotor getting too close to a power line, with the rotor ripped away from the helicopter, causing the aircraft to spin and crash into the field.

Pilot Jonathan Wanda, 27, of Harvard, Illinois, wasn't hurt but was taken to a local hospital as a precaution.

Wanda was the only person in the helicopter. No one on the ground was injured.

The Federal Aviation Administration and Westby Police Department are investigating the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://host.madison.com

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