Thursday, December 26, 2019

Low Altitude Operation/Event: Bell 206, N8052G; accident occurred August 18, 2018 in Battle Mountain, Lander County, Nevada

View of thermal damaged helicopter.
Federal Aviation Administration

Additional Participating Entity: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Reno, Nevada

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Battle Mountain, NV
Accident Number: GAA18CA512
Date & Time: 08/18/2018, 1345 PDT
Registration: N8052G
Aircraft: Bell 206
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Aerial Observation 

The helicopter pilot reported that while climbing out of a canyon at 30 knots indicated airspeed, about 50 ft above the ground, he felt a "hard vibration" in the cyclic and collective controls. He then saw that the airspeed gauge was reading zero knots and he felt the helicopter was being pushed down. The torque indicator rose to 120% without any cyclic and collective control input. He applied right cyclic, lowered the collective, applied right pedal to counter the torque, and turned the helicopter downslope and into the wind. He applied forward cyclic to better match the downslope of the terrain and raised collective, but the helicopter impacted terrain. The skids impacted the ground first followed by the main rotor blades. The helicopter rotated 180º to the right before coming to rest downhill, on its right side. Shortly after, a post impact fire ensued.

The helicopter was destroyed during the postimpact fire.

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

The pilot reported that the winds were gusting up to 30 knots in the canyon, "changing direction every minute or so." 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 43, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Helicopter
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/06/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 4060 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1500 hours (Total, this make and model), 3975 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Bell
Registration: N8052G
Model/Series: 206 B
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1989
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 4050
Landing Gear Type: High Skid
Seats: 5
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3350 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Shaft
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: Rolls Royce
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: 250-C20R
Registered Owner: El Aero Services Llc
Rated Power: hp
Operator: El Aero Services Llc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KBAM, 4532 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 11 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2056 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 192°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  6 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts:
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.2 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 34°C / -5°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: Moderate - Haze; No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Battle Mountain, NV (BAM)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Destination: Battle Mountain, NV (BAM)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1312 PDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 None
Latitude, Longitude: 40.785833, -116.843333 (est)

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