Monday, April 30, 2018

Aerospatiale AS355 F1 TwinStar, N708AC: Accident occurred July 11, 2020 in Rifle, Garfield County, Colorado

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

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

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Rifle, CO 
Accident Number: CEN20LA273
Date & Time: 07/11/2020, 0734 MDT
Registration: N708AC
Aircraft: Aerospatiale AS355
Injuries: 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Aerial Observation

On July 11, 2020, at 0734 mountain daylight time, an Aerospatiale AS355F1 helicopter, N708AC, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Rifle, Colorado. The pilot and passenger sustained serious injuries. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 aerial observation flight.

According to the operator, their flight tracking program showed that the helicopter depart the Rifle Garfield County Airport (RIL), Rifle, Colorado, and was en route to perform a low altitude aerial observation flight of transmission/power lines. The flight track ended near the accident location after a 3 to 4 minute flight about one mile southwest of RIL. Witnesses, located on a distant roadway, reportedly observed the helicopter spinning before it turned nose-down and then impacted terrain. Local law enforcement stated that a postimpact fire consumed a majority of the helicopter.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Aerospatiale
Registration: N708AC
Model/Series:AS355 F1 
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand Air Taxi (135)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: RIL, 5536 ft msl
Observation Time: 0753 MDT
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / -3°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 10°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.36 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Rifle, CO
Destination: Rifle, CO

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 39.524167, -107.727222 (est)

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colorado — A helicopter carrying a crew for an Xcel Energy subcontractor crashed Saturday morning near Rifle, according to the company.

The two crew members who were aboard were taken to Grand River Health in Rifle, according to the Grand County Sheriff's Office (GCSO). Their condition was unknown.

The helicopter crashed about 7 a.m. along Airport Road near Rifle, according GCSO said. Colorado River Fire Rescue was able to contain the brush fire that resulted from the crash.

The helicopter was carrying an Xcel subcontracting crew that was taking pictures for future work on electrical lines, said an Xcel spokesperson.

"Our thoughts are with the crew members and their families," the Xcel spokesperson said in an email. "We will be working with officials in their investigation."

The National Transportation Safety Board will handle the investigation, according to GCSO.

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