Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Bell 47G-3B-1, N1170W: Accident occurred August 20, 2019 in Montrose, Colorado

The 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: Montrose, CO
Accident Number: CEN19TA280
Date & Time: 08/20/2019, 1030 MDT
Registration: N1170W
Aircraft: Bell 47G
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

On August 20, 2019, about 1030 mountain daylight time, a Bell 47G-3B-1, N1170W, lost engine power during aerial application near Montrose, Colorado. The commercial pilot was seriously injured, and the helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tail boom and fuselage. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Olathe Spray Service, Inc., Olathe, Colorado, as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 aerial application flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site and at the time of the accident, and no visual flight rules flight plan had been filed for the local flight.

The pilot stated that he had been performing agricultural spray operations in four different locations. He returned to Clifford Field Airport (1CO4), Olathe, Colorado, his home base, to take on additional chemical product. On the three previous trips, pesticide and about 30 gallons of Jet-A fuel were added as the helicopter sat idling. On this, the fourth trip, the helicopter was serviced with chemical, but no fuel was added.

The pilot stated that each spray pass was performed at approximately 85 mph and low above the crop in order to achieve optimal product application and spray coverage to the crop. In order to do this the helicopter, at that speed, flies at a nose-low attitude. The fuel delivery port/tube on both tanks is located at the aft, lower end of each tank, and both tanks deliver fuel to the engine simultaneously. There is no pilot-controlled fuel selector valve in the cockpit. During the aerial application, the helicopter yawed left when the engine flamed out. The pilot slowed the helicopter and impacted a cornfield.

The helicopter had been resting on its right side in a corn field for several days before a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector and a representative of the engine manufacturer examined it. As a result, it could not be determined if fuel had drained out of the right fuel tank through a vent line, loose filler cap, or breached tank. Approximately 2/3 to 3/4 gallon of clean, clear, odor-free fuel was drained from of the right tank, and 2-1/2 gallons were drained from the left tank Fuel was also found from the inlet side of the airframe-mounted fuel filter all the way to the fuel spray nozzle inlet on the engine. The fuel spray nozzle appeared normal with no signs of excessive carbon deposits or blockage. Both the airframe and engine fuel filter bowls contained clean fuel, and both filters were void of contamination.

N1 (gas producer) and N2 (power turbine) rotor continuity was established, and both rotors turned smoothly by hand. Cockpit controls from the throttle and collective back to the engine fuel control unit and power turbine governor were free and continuous. The engine oil system (filter, mag plugs) was checked and deemed unremarkable. Further examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunction or failure of the engine. No pre-existing conditions were found with the engine that would have precluded normal operation. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Bell
Registration: N1170W
Model/Series: 47G 3B-1
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Olathe Spray Service, Inc.
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:
Observation Time: 1100 MDT
Distance from Accident Site: 4 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None
Altimeter Setting: 30.3 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Olathe, CO (1CO4)
Destination: Olathe, CO (1CO4)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude:  38.000000, -107.000000

Olathe resident and well-known crop-duster Leonard Felix survived when his helicopter crashed near a cornfield off Jay Jay Road late Tuesday morning.

Felix, 74, was listed in fair condition at Montrose Memorial Hospital later in the day.

Felix’s family business, Olathe Spray Service, performs crop-dusting and has repeatedly over the years assisted in search and rescue efforts, as well as other public service work. Tuesday, Felix got that same kind of help in return, starting with Jay Jay Road property owners.

Mike Holden and his brother Drew were working in their yard just before the crash. Holden spotted Felix flying over the nearby corn.

“He was close enough I could see him. I waved, but he was concentrating. Maybe five seconds after he flew by us, we heard this crash. We saw smoke in the air. My brother took off running,” Holden said.

Holden’s wife, Irene, asked what the noise was.

“I said Felix went down; call 911,” Holden said.

As Irene went for the phone, Holden got on a side-by-side and drove down the dirt road between his yard and cornfield, collecting his brother along the way.

The corn was so dense, though, that they missed the crash site at first; even standing on the vehicle to peer over the corn did not help them locate the wreckage.

As the brothers turned their vehicle around to search again and rounded a curve, they got a surprise: Felix, walking out of the corn, holding an injured hand.

Original article  ➤

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