Friday, April 20, 2018

Robinson R44, registered to Holt Helicopters Inc, N4487D: Accident occurred April 18, 2018 in Sonora, Sutton County, Texas

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Antonio, Texas

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Sonora, TX
Accident Number: GAA18CA247
Date & Time: 04/18/2018, 1100 CDT
Registration: N4487D
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Aerial Observation 

The pilot reported that, while spotting deer, the helicopter hit the top of a tree damaging the tail rotor. The helicopter began to spin, and the pilot closed the throttle. The helicopter landed and rolled onto its left side.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tail boom and fuselage.

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

The pilot's recommendation was to fly at a higher and safer altitude. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 36, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/24/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 08/19/2016
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 12882 hours (Total, all aircraft), 9558 hours (Total, this make and model), 12371 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 374 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 47 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 7 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N4487D
Model/Series: R44 UNDESIGNATED
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 1654
Landing Gear Type: Skid;
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/06/2018, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3719.6 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: C91A installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-540-F1B5
Rated Power: 260 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  Rotorcraft External Load (133) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KECU, 2372 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 22 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1615 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 135°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 2300 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 12 knots / 21 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 10°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.11 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 21°C / 15°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point:
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Unknown
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:  30.211667, -100.477500 (est)

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