Sunday, June 16, 2019

Low Altitude Operation / Event: Robinson R44 II, N466EL, accident occurred July 27, 2018 in Elma, Howard County, Iowa

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Ankeny, Iowa

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Elma, IA
Accident Number: GAA18CA453
Date & Time: 07/27/2018, 1810 CDT
Registration: N466EL
Aircraft: Robinson R44
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

The helicopter pilot reported that, during a high reconnaissance of a field intended for aerial application, he saw power lines to the north, with wires running northwest to southeast. He then started the application on the southwest corner of the field, and while flying west to east, he saw another set of wires crossing the southeastern corner of the field. About 14 feet above the ground, the main rotor blades impacted the wire, the helicopter pitched aft, then broke free of the wires and impacted the ground.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and main rotor blades.

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

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 43, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Helicopter
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/05/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 06/21/2018
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 1169 hours (Total, all aircraft), 240 hours (Total, this make and model), 1100 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 159 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 159 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Robinson
Registration: N466EL
Model/Series: R44 II
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 2005
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 10732
Landing Gear Type: Skid;
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2500 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: IO-540-AE1A5
Registered Owner: Midwest Airspray Llc
Rated Power: 245 hp
Operator: Airbourn Aviation
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCCY, 1125 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 19 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2315 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 212°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 8 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 300°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.11 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 12°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point:
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude:  43.334722, -92.384444 (est)

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