Sunday, December 15, 2019

Collision During Landing: Eurocopter Deutschland MBB-BK 117 C-2, N145EC; accident occurred December 24, 2018 in Strum, Trempealeau County, Wisconsin

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Strum, WI
Accident Number: CEN19TA075
Date & Time: 12/24/2018, 2215 CST
Registration: N145EC
Aircraft: MBB BK117
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Collision during takeoff/land
Injuries: 3 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled - Air Medical (Medical Emergency) 

On December 24, 2018, about 2215 central standard time, a Eurocopter Deutschland MBB-BK117 C-2 helicopter, N145EC, impacted a fire truck during a visual approach to a landing zone near Strum, Wisconsin. The commercial pilot and two crewmembers received minor injuries, and the helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to U.S. Bank and operated by Mayo Clinic under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as an air medical flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which departed from Chippewa Valley Regional Airport (EAU), Eau Claire, Wisconsin, about 2154.

The pilot reported that while on approach to a landing zone, the crew called out obstructions such as trees, fire trucks, and flag poles. About 30 ft above ground level, the pilot noticed a street sign and decelerated the helicopter, which resulted in a lowering of the tail boom and rotor. During this movement, the tail rotor contacted the hose rack on a fire truck and the helicopter started to spin. The pilot lowered the collective control and the helicopter impacted terrain, which damaged the landing gear skids. Postaccident examination revealed that the helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tail rotor. The pilot reported there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation.

Following the accident, the operator initiated the following actions:

Reviewed current company policies regarding confined area/ scene landing to verify pilots were provided the proper guidance and training to land at a non-airport/helipad environment.

Provided training to all pilots regarding expectations in these landing scenarios and steps to assist in decision making and determining the suitability of a landing area.

Introduced scene landing scenarios into annual simulator training.

Developed annual syllabi for pilots to complete annually to refresh themselves and medical crew on basic confined area/scene landing protocols.

Developed an off-airport landing checklist that included:

1. Ensure the size of the area is adequate,

2. The landing surface is suitable. Is it level is there mud, ice, blowing snow, etc.

3. Review obstacles in or around the landing zone (wires, vehicles, flagpoles, fences, street signs, etc.),

4. The best approach direction and type of approach (Normal, steep, vertical),

5. The best departure direction and type of departure (Normal, vertical),

6. Power requirements needed to avoid obstacles. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 52, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 01/11/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 10/22/2018
Flight Time:  3842 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1064 hours (Total, this make and model), 3842 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 42 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 9 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: MBB
Registration: N145EC
Model/Series: BK117 C2
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Transport
Serial Number: 9181
Landing Gear Type: Skid
Seats: 5
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 12/24/2018, AAIP
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 7887 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 2 Turbo Shaft
Airframe Total Time: 6055 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Turbomeca
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: Arriel 1E2
Registered Owner: U.S. Bank
Rated Power: 790 hp
Operator: Mayo Clinic
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand Air Taxi (135)
Operator Does Business As: Mayo Clinic
Operator Designator Code: 15MA

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KEAU, 895 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 19 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2156 CST
Direction from Accident Site: 348°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 8000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Calm /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting:
Temperature/Dew Point: -8°C / -11°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Eau Claire, WI (EAU)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Destination: Strum, WI
Type of Clearance: None 
Departure Time: 2154 CST
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 3 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 44.549722, -91.391389

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