Tuesday, June 19, 2018

McDonnell Douglas 369FF, registered to and operated by Northwest Helicopters LLC, N900FF: Accident occurred June 16, 2018 in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Juan, Puerto Rico

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

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


Location: Yabucoa, PR
Accident Number: GAA18CA378
Date & Time: 06/16/2018, 1700 EDT
Registration: N900FF
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 133: Rotorcraft Ext. Load 

According to the helicopter pilot, he dropped off a lineman on top of a power line tower, to install fiber lines. The lineman completed the task and informed the pilot by radio that he was ready to be recovered from the tower.

During the recovery, the pilot hovered next to the tower and signaled to the lineman that he was ready for him to transfer from the tower to the left skid of the helicopter. When the lineman reached out to attach his lanyard to the helicopter, the pilot felt the main rotor blades strike the fiber line that was just installed. The helicopter remained controllable and the pilot made a precautionary landing without recovering the lineman.

After discussing the event with the lineman, the fiber line was raised to a higher position on the tower prior to the recovery of the lineman.

Upon returning to base, a post-accident examination of the helicopter revealed that the helicopter sustained substantial damage to the main rotor blades.

The pilot reported that the accident could have been prevented by assessing each approach and landing individually, while looking for any possible new hazards or obstructions.

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

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 56, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 None
Last FAA Medical Exam: 12/20/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 07/31/2017
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 16564 hours (Total, all aircraft), 4227 hours (Total, this make and model), 15358 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 172 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 37 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N900FF
Model/Series: 369 FF
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1994
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 0100FF
Landing Gear Type: High Skid
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/08/2018, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2250 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Shaft
Airframe Total Time: 5509.1 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Rolls Royce
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: 250C30
Rated Power: 650 hp
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137); Rotorcraft External Load (133); On-demand Air Taxi (135)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: TJNR, 38 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 18 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2053 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 48°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 4800 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 9 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 110°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.05 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 25°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

Departure Point: Palmas Del Mar, PR
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Yabucoa, PR
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1600 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 18.051111, -65.879444 (est)

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