Friday, January 19, 2018

Robinson R66, N778TL, registered to Hynes Aviation Industries Inc and operated by Colorado Vertical: Accident occurred May 20, 2017 in Canon City, Fremont County, Colorado

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Denver, Colorado
Robinson Helicopter; Torrance, California

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

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

http://registry.faa.gov/N778TL



Location: Canon City, CO
Accident Number: CEN17LA192
Date & Time: 05/20/2017, 1340 MDT
Registration: N778TL
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER CO R66
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Settling with power/vortex ring state
Injuries: 5 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Business - Sightseeing 

On May 20, 2017, about 1340 mountain daylight time, a Robinson Helicopter Company R66 helicopter, N778TL, impacted terrain following a loss of control on approach to landing near Canon City, Colorado. The commercial pilot and four passengers were not injured, and the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was registered to Hynes Aviation Industries, Inc, and operated by Colorado Vertical under provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a local air tour flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company visual flight rules flight plan was filed for the local flight. The flight originated from a private helipad near Canon City about 1335.

The pilot reported to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge that after completing the local air tour flight, the helicopter approached the private helipad location from the south near highway route 50. After crossing over route 50 on approach about 50-60 kts, the pilot began to arrest the descent to view the wind sock and determine the proper approach to the helipad. The pilot reported the winds were from the south, so he decided to make the final approach from the north. About 200 ft above ground level and west of the helipad, the pilot initiated a left turn, and the helicopter started an uncommanded descent. The pilot applied power to stop the descent, but the helicopter continued sinking towards the terrain. Due to the low altitude, the pilot then committed to land and leveled the helicopter. During the landing, the back of the landing gear skids struck the terrain, which resulted in the main rotor blades contacting and severing in the tail boom. The helicopter came to rest upright and the occupants exited the helicopter.

Postaccident examination of the helicopter airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

The pilot reported that the helicopter weight was 2,580 lbs at the time of the accident, and the pilot's calculated center of gravity was 92.92 inches.

A GoPro HERO3 Silver Edition camera was mounted on the helicopter windshield facing inward into the cabin. The camera was installed on the helicopter to provide passengers a video of their air tour flight. A copy of the accident flight video was recovered by the operator and provided to the NTSB. The video was reviewed by the NTSB's Office of Research and Engineering and a video study was completed. The study goal was to estimate the forward and vertical speeds of the helicopter before the hard landing.

The analysis of the video was based on a mathematical model of the camera. Four parameters, yaw, pitch, roll, and horizontal field of view angle, were estimated from video frames recorded before takeoff, when the helicopter was on the departure helipad. Parameter estimation was based on several reference points, which were visible through the helicopter windows and aerial images of the accident area.

According to the study calculations, the forward speed was estimated at 34+3 knots, and the highest estimated vertical descent speed was 570+60 ft/min. In addition, the helicopter experienced an elevated level of vibrations during a time interval of approximately seven seconds that ended just before ground impact. 

Pilot Information


Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 44, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Helicopter
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/21/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 10/31/2015
Flight Time:  520 hours (Total, all aircraft), 95 hours (Total, this make and model), 412 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 31 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 7 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information


Aircraft Manufacturer: ROBINSON HELICOPTER CO
Registration: N778TL
Model/Series: R66 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 0469
Landing Gear Type: Skid
Seats: 5
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 03/15/2017, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2700 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Shaft
Airframe Total Time: 197 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Rolls-Royce
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: 250-C300/A1
Registered Owner: Hynes Aviation Industries, Inc
Rated Power: 300 hp
Operator:  Colorado Vertical
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan


Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: 1V6
Observation Time: 1300 MDT
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 101°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 16500 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 16°C / 5°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots, 180°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.1 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Precipitation
Departure Point: Canon City, CO
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Destination: Canon City, CO
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1335 MDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information


Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 4 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 5 None
Latitude, Longitude:  38.290000, -105.190000 (est)

NTSB Identification: CEN17LA192
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 20, 2017 in Canon City, CO
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER CO R66, registration: N778TL 
Injuries: 5 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 May 20, 2017, about 1345 mountain daylight time, a Robinson R66 helicopter, N778TL, impacted terrain following a loss of control on approach to landing near Canon City, Colorado. The commercial pilot and four passengers were not injured, and the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was registered to Hynes Aviation Industries, Inc, and operated by Colorado Vertical under provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a local air tour flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company flight plan was filed for the local flight. The flight originated a private helipad near Canon City at an unknown time.

The pilot reported to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge, that after completing the local air tour flight, the helicopter approached the private helipad. On approach about 50-60 kts, the pilot began to arrest the descent to view the windsock and determine the proper approach to the helipad. About 200 ft above ground level, the pilot initiated a left turn and the helicopter started an uncommanded descent. The pilot applied power to stop the descent, but the helicopter continued sinking towards the terrain. Due to the low altitude, the pilot then committed to land and leveled the helicopter. During the landing, the back of the landing gear skids struck the terrain, which resulted in the main rotor blades contacting and severing in the tail boom. The helicopter came to rest upright and the occupants exited the helicopter.

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