Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Hughes 369D, N338HW, Heliwild Investments LLC: Accident occurred February 12, 2018 in Heber City, Wasatch County, Utah

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City, Utah

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

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

Heliwild Investments LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N338HW

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Factual Report

Location: Heber City, UT
Accident Number: GAA18CA127
Date & Time: 02/12/2018, 1553 MST
Registration: N338HW
Aircraft: HUGHES 369
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Miscellaneous/other
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Other Work Use 

The helicopter pilot reported that, he was maneuvering at a low altitude in an attempt to net an elk. When the helicopter was approximately above the elk, his attention was immediately focused forward due to a small rise in terrain. He pitched the nose of the helicopter up, and the helicopter started to shake and spin. Subsequently, the helicopter struck the ground, the right skid broke, and the helicopter came to rest on its right side.

A post-accident examination revealed that the helicopter's tail-rotor had struck the elk when the pilot pitched the helicopter's nose up.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tail-boom and rotor.

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

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 46, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 11/02/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/25/2016
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 4877.7 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1670 hours (Total, this make and model), 4700.4 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 275.3 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 95.1 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 6.4 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: HUGHES
Registration: N338HW
Model/Series: 369 D
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1979
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 890559D
Landing Gear Type: High Skid
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 01/30/2018, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Shaft
Airframe Total Time: 6339 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Rolls Royce
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: 250-C20B
Rated Power: 420 hp
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Rotorcraft External Load (133); On-demand Air Taxi (135)
Operator Does Business As: Helicopter Wildlife Services
Operator Designator Code: 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KPVU, 4497 ft msl
Observation Time: 2256 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 32 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 258°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 6000 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 8°C / -8°C
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 8000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 330°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.79 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration:  No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point:
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:
Type of Airspace:  Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude:  40.330000, -111.043611 (est)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The case of an elk that died after it leapt in the air and brought a low-flying research helicopter down in Utah highlights the use of helicopters in wildlife monitoring, which has been criticized by animal-rights groups but praised as effective by wildlife managers.

The sound of the chopper blades and the wind kicked up by the helicopters can be terrifying for animals, said Jennifer Best with the group Friends of Animals.

"They're loud and they're scary and it's dangerous to the various wildlife that's impacted, and, as this demonstrates, can also be dangerous to the personnel who are operating the helicopter," she said.

She called for the use of less-invasive monitoring tools, like cameras or video monitoring.

The helicopter crew was trying to capture the elk with a net to fit it with a tracking collar before the Monday crash in the mountains about 90 miles (145 kilometers) east of Salt Lake City.

Wildlife officials said it was a fluke accident during an otherwise by-the-book operation. The two people on board were not seriously hurt, but the elk died after jumping into the chopper's tail rotor.

The helicopters are the best way to reach remote wildlife, and the tracking collars placed on elk gather the most detailed information on animals so managers can keep herds healthy, said Mark Hadley with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

That information is used to determine the number of hunting licenses the state can offer and minimize interactions with farmers, he said. The animals are not threatened or endangered in Utah.

The state captures more than 1,000 animals a year and the vast majority are unaffected by the procedure, he said. Crews use nets rather than tranquilizer guns on elk because they don't respond well to the drugs.

It's illegal for private helicopters to chase wildlife in Utah, but Hadley said crews contracted by the state crews are highly trained and know how to get in and out quickly to minimize any disruption to the animals, he said.

Most of the division's work is paid for from hunting and licensing fees.

Wildlife groups are also objecting to a plan to use helicopters to monitor mountain goats and bighorn sheep in another part of Utah designated as wilderness area. Kirk Robinson of the Western Wildlife Conservancy said the main concern is that aircraft would disrupt the untouched quality of the area, but the crash also highlights concerns about the dangers of helicopters in mountain terrain, where cleaning up any debris would be a big challenge.

Wild-horse advocates have long opposed use of helicopters in roundups intended to shrink the size of herds that federal land managers say are overpopulated in many parts of the West.

They say the sound and wind created by the machines terrifies and can injure the horses. But most judges have sided with federal land managers who say the helicopters are efficient and the risks are low.


WASATCH COUNTY, Utah – Authorities are investigating after an elk brought down a helicopter in Wasatch County.

According to the Jared Rigby with the Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office, authorities received a distress signal from the aircraft at about 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Search and rescue teams and Fruitland EMS responded to the remote area near the Current Creek Dam.

“A helicopter crew was in the process of capturing Elk for the state of Utah,” Wasatch County Search and Rescue wrote. “The cow elk somehow jumped up and hit the tail rotor of the chopper. This almost severed the tail rotor and ended the flight of this chopper.”

The two people who were aboard the helicopter suffered minor cuts and bruises.

The helicopter is a total loss.

“Not something you see every day when an Elk brings down a chopper,” search and rescue wrote.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has been tracking the migration patterns of the elk and contracted the pilots.

DWR officials said the elk did not survive the incident.


FRUITLAND, Duchesne County — A pilot and passenger from Australia sustained only small cuts and bruises when an elk jumped and severed the tail rotor of their helicopter Monday evening near Currant Creek in Wasatch County.

The pair was attempting to net the animal, Wasatch County Search and Rescue said on Facebook.

Few details were immediately released, and it was not clear how the elk fared. First responders from Fruitland evaluated the two aboard the helicopter.

"Not something you see every day when an Elk brings down a chopper," the rescue group wrote in the Facebook post.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources was investigating.

Story, video and photo gallery:  https://www.ksl.com

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