Saturday, November 23, 2019

Rotorcraft Loading Event: Robinson R44 II, N99645; accident occurred August 29, 2018 in Girdwood, Alaska

Damage to main rotor blade.
Federal Aviation Administration

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Anchorage, Alaska

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Girdwood, AK
Accident Number: GAA18CA534
Date & Time: 08/29/2018, 1700 AKD
Registration: N99645
Aircraft: Robinson R44
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Aircraft loading event
Injuries: 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled 

The pilot reported that while "hot loading" the second set of fishermen onto the helicopter, one of the fishing rods went into the main rotor disc. The pilot heard a "small tick" but felt nothing on the controls. He hovered the helicopter and no unusual indications were felt through the flight controls.

Upon examination after shutdown, the pilot discovered damage to the main rotor blade and based on the manufacturer's main rotor blade damage guidance, the main rotor blade was found beyond repair limits.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the main rotor blade.

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: 44, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used:
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: 01/28/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 05/01/2018
Flight Time: (Estimated) 2140 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1350 hours (Total, this make and model), 2070 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 245 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 100 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Robinson
Registration: N99645
Model/Series: R44 II
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 13448
Landing Gear Type: Skid;
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  Unknown
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2500 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO-540-AE1A5
Registered Owner: Alpine Air Alaska Inc
Rated Power:
Operator: Alpine Air Alaska Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: 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: PALV, 60 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 32 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0053 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 8°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 4 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 250°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.83 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C / 7°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Drift River, AK
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Destination: Drift River, AK
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1645 AKD
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 60.284444, -152.453333 (est)

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