Saturday, January 27, 2018

Hughes 269C, N9685F, Charlottesville Aero LLC: Accident occurred November 22, 2017 in Woodlawn, Carroll County, Virginia

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Charleston, West Virginia

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Woodlawn, VA
Accident Number: GAA18CA060
Date & Time: 11/22/2017, 1100 EST
Registration: N9685F
Aircraft: HUGHES 300
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


The helicopter pilot reported that, he was landing on a pad in a confined area. He added that, as he approached the landing pad, he slowed the helicopter to transition to a hover. The main rotor RPM began to drop and he applied full throttle, but the RPM continued to decline. The helicopter was unable to maintain altitude and slowly settled into the trees on the hillside about 20 ft. short of the landing pad. Subsequently, the helicopter struck the trees, and rolled onto its right-side.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and main rotor system.

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

The pilot reported that, after the accident, he noticed there was a significant right quartering tailwind, which required the application of more left pedal than anticipated. He further explained that the increased application of anti-torque pedal lessened the available power to maintain the main rotor RPM. He concluded the approach could have been completed safely with a steeper and faster approach to better manage engine power. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: 

The pilot's inappropriate descent profile during landing with a quartering gusting tailwind, which resulted in a loss of main rotor rpm. 


Descent/approach/glide path - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Tailwind - Effect on operation
Gusts - Effect on operation

Factual Information

History of Flight

Loss of control in flight (Defining event)
Attempted remediation/recovery
Settling with power/vortex ring state
Landing area undershoot
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)
Roll over

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor
Age: 64, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: BasicMed
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/11/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 07/26/2017
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 4241 hours (Total, all aircraft), 127 hours (Total, this make and model), 4173 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 34 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 9 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: HUGHES
Registration: N9685F
Model/Series: 300 C
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1972
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 620147
Landing Gear Type: Skid
Seats: 3
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 08/08/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2050 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 5598 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91A installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: HIO-360-D1A
Rated Power: 190 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KHLX, 2693 ft msl
Observation Time: 1555 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 4 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 96°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 7°C / -2°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 17 knots/ 25 knots, 320°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.06 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Woodlawn, VA
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1045 EST
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude:  36.771944, -80.898333 (est)

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