Friday, August 16, 2019

Low Altitude Operation / Event: Hughes 269B, N9427F; accident occurred August 05, 2015 in Atkinson, Henry County, Illinois

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; DuPage / West Chicago, Illinois

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Atkinson, IL
Accident Number: CEN15LA341
Date & Time: 08/05/2015, 1705 CDT
Registration: N9427F
Aircraft: HUGHES 269B
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


The commercial pilot was conducting a local, personal flight when the helicopter collided with a power line during cruise flight. A witness reported seeing the helicopter flying about 20 ft above the ground shortly before the accident. Another witness reported hearing the helicopter approach his position then hearing a loud "pop" and seeing a broken power line pass over him. The helicopter crashed in a nearby field and was destroyed by fire. The pilot sustained serious injuries and did not recall the accident flight.

Postaccident examination of the helicopter did not reveal any evidence of preimpact anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Based on the available information, the pilot was intentionally flying the helicopter at a low altitude toward the southwest when it collided with the power line. Weather conditions were good at the time of the accident, and the sun was about 34° above the horizon and to the west-southwest. Although the location of the sun relative to the power line may have hindered the pilot's ability to see and avoid the power line, it was the pilot's improper decision to operate the helicopter at a low altitude that resulted in the collision with the power line.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's improper decision to intentionally fly the helicopter at a low altitude and his subsequent failure to maintain clearance from a power line. 


Altitude - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Monitoring environment - Pilot (Cause)
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Wire - Effect on operation (Cause)
Light condition - Effect on personnel

Factual Information 

On August 5, 2015, about 1705 central daylight time, a Hughes 269B helicopter, N9427F, collided with a power line during cruise flight near Atkinson, Illinois. The pilot sustained serious injuries, and the helicopter was destroyed during a postimpact fire. The helicopter was registered to the commercial pilot and operated under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight. The local flight was believed to have originated from the pilot's residence located near Genesco, Illinois, at an unknown time.

A witness to the accident reported that he was working on his property when he heard the helicopter approach his position. He then heard a loud "pop" and saw a broken power line overfly his position. The witness turned around and saw the helicopter wreckage in a nearby field engulfed in fire. He immediately responded to the accident site and removed the pilot from the burning wreckage.

Another witness reported that initially a loud noise drew her attention towards the helicopter's position. She saw the helicopter briefly in flight before it impacted the ground in a level attitude. She reported that there was an extensive ground fire after the accident.

Another witness reported seeing the helicopter flying about 20 ft above soybean fields before it flew out of her line of sight. The witness subsequently heard the sound of emergency vehicles responding to the accident site.

The pilot was hospitalized for several months after the accident with serious burns sustained during the postaccident fire. The pilot does not recall the accident flight.

A postaccident examination of the helicopter was completed by Federal Aviation Administration inspectors. An onsite survey revealed that the helicopter had collided with a north/south power line located about 184 ft northeast of the main wreckage. The height of the power line was about 40 ft above the ground. A wreckage debris path extended about 98 ft southwest into a soybean field. The helicopter was destroyed during the postimpact fire. The only identifiable components remaining were the engine, main transmission, and some cockpit instruments. An examination of the engine confirmed internal engine and valve train continuity as the engine crankshaft was rotated. Compression and suction were noted on all cylinders in conjunction with crankshaft rotation. Both magnetos and their respective ignition harness were damaged during the postimpact fire and could not be tested. The sparkplugs electrodes exhibited heavy combustion deposits. The oil strainer contained oil and was clear of debris. The mechanical fuel pump functioned as designed when the pump lever was moved by hand. All fuel lines remained connected to the flow divider manifold. The postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

A postaccident review of available meteorological data established that day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site. The nearest aviation weather reporting station was located at Quad City International Airport (MLI) about 24 nautical miles west of the accident site. At 1652, about 13 minutes before the accident, the MLI automated surface observing system reported: wind 50° at 8 knots, 10 miles surface visibility, clear sky, temperature 28°C, dew point 17°C, and an altimeter setting 29.97 inches of mercury.

According to data obtained from the U.S. Naval Observatory, at the time of the accident, the sun was approximately 34° above the horizon to the west-southwest (263°). Sunset was at 2013 on the day of the accident. 

History of Flight

Low altitude operation/event (Defining event)
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Uncontrolled descent
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Fire/smoke (post-impact)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 74, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Unknown
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 09/22/2014
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: (Estimated) 3110 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: HUGHES
Registration: N9427F
Model/Series: 269B
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1963
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: 0174
Landing Gear Type: Skid
Seats: 3
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  Unknown
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1670 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines:  1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: HIO-360-A1A
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: MLI, 590 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 24 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1652 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 270°
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: 50°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.97 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 17°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Geneseo, IL (PVT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Geneseo, IL (PVT)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:  CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 41.411111, -89.973333 (est)

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