Friday, February 2, 2018

Hughes 369E, N618SG: Accident occurred February 01, 2018 in Wrightwood, San Bernardino County, California

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Riverside, 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/N618SG

Location: Wrightwood, CA
Accident Number: GAA18CA117
Date & Time: 02/01/2018, 0945 PST
Registration: N618SG
Aircraft: HUGHES HELICOPTERS INC 369
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled 

The helicopter pilot selected a landing site on a ridge above 8,000ft mean sea level, and initiated an approach.

The helicopter descended below effective translational lift airspeed, and the pilot turned the nose of the helicopter to the right. The helicopter developed a rapid right yaw, and he applied full left pedal to arrest the yaw, and forward cyclic to fly out of the condition, but the main rotor blades struck the ground. The helicopter came to rest on its left side, and sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, the tailboom and both rotor systems.

The pilot reported that the maximum gross weight of the helicopter was 3,000 pounds, and the weight of the helicopter at the time of the accident was 2,700 pounds.

According to the Recommendation section of the National Transportation Safety Board Pilot's Aircraft Accident Report, the pilot reported that the accident could have been prevented if the helicopter wasn't so heavy. Additionally, he noted that he should have selected a better landing area with the landing direction into the wind.

Per the Federal Aviation Administration Helicopter Flying Handbook pg. 11-20, "Loss of Tail Rotor Effectiveness" LTE at Altitude, when operating at high altitudes and high gross weights, especially while hovering, the tail rotor thrust may not be sufficient to maintain directional control, and LTE can occur. In this case, the hovering ceiling is limited by tail rotor thrust and not necessarily power available.

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

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 75, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane; Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Helicopter; Instrument Helicopter
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 05/01/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/24/2017
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 20000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 7850 hours (Total, this make and model), 19000 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 29 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 8 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: HUGHES HELICOPTERS INC
Registration: N618SG
Model/Series: 369 E
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1982
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 0014E
Landing Gear Type: High Skid
Seats: 5
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 01/02/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Shaft
Airframe Total Time: 8250.8 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Rolls Royce
ELT: Installed, activated, aided in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: 250-C20B
Registered Owner: HELICOPTERS UNLIMITED LLC
Rated Power: 420 hp
Operator: Western Helicopters, Inc.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Pilot School (141); Rotorcraft External Load (133); On-demand Air Taxi (135)
Operator Does Business As: Western Helicopters, Inc.
Operator Designator Code: 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCCB, 1439 ft msl
Observation Time: 1753 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 15 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 248°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 25000 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 22°C / -2°C
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility: 10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.04 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: RIVERSIDE, CA (RAL)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Destination: Wrightwood, CA
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0915 PST
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 None
Latitude, Longitude:  34.208889, -117.403611 (est)

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