Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Airbus Helicopters (Aerospatiale) SA 330 Puma, N339EV: Accident occurred January 26, 2018 in Pacific Ocean, Japan

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration; Washington, District of Columbia
Erickson Helicopters; Medford, Oregon 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:


Location: Pacific Ocean, Japan
Accident Number: ANC18LA020
Date & Time: 01/26/2018, 0225 UTC
Registration: N339EV
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load 

On January 26, 2018, about 0225 universal coordinated time (UTC), an Airbus Helicopters SA330, N339EV, sustained substantial damage during a fresh water engine rinse aboard the USNS Wally Shirra while in international waters of the Pacific Ocean. The two commercial pilots sustained no injuries. The flight was being operated as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 133 external load flight. Visual Meteorological conditions prevailed and company flight following procedures were in effect. The helicopter was shuttling supplies from the Wally Shirra to other naval vessels in the area.

According to the pilot, after landing on the deck of the ship, power was increased on the #2 engine, while the #1 engine was reduced to ground idle in preparation for a fresh water rinse of the engines in order to prevent corrosion from possible sea spray. Once the engines were properly configured, he observed the lead engineer squeeze the trigger on the wand, which was followed by a rumbling sound and a rough shudder through the airframe. He then checked the engine instruments in the cockpit and noted no abnormalities. About that time there was another shudder through the airframe, and he heard a change in the tone of the engine and gear box noise. He looked back at the engine instruments and noted that Ng of the #2 engine and Nr had begun to increase.

The pilot further stated that at this point he moved the fuel boost pumps and the engine control switches to the off position. He waited for the Nr to slow to below 120 rpm and applied the rotor brake. After the main rotor had stopped, the lead engineer informed him that the tail rotor was still spinning.

Upon inspection, a gash was present along the cowling that covered the #7 tail rotor drive shaft. The #7 tail rotor drive shaft was fractured torsionally about mid-span.

A weather observation taken aboard the vessel was reporting, in part, light and variable winds; visibility 25 miles; clouds and ceiling clear; temperature 28° C; altimeter 29.89 inches of Mercury.

The helicopter was equipped with two Safran Turbo IVC engines. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: EUROCOPTER FRANCE
Registration: N339EV
Model/Series: SA330J PUMA J
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Erickson Helicopters
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Rotorcraft External Load (133); On-demand Air Taxi (135)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:
Lowest Ceiling:
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point:

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:  35.245556, 157.236389 (est)

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