Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Loss of Control in Flight: Mosquito XEL, accident occurred January 21, 2018 in Loxahatchee, Palm Beach County, Florida

Tail Boom Damage

Tail Rotor and Boom Damage

Ground Scars at Accident Location

Front View of Helicopter Damage

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Miramar, Florida

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms 

Accident Number: ERA18LA082
Date & Time: 01/21/2018, 1545 EST
Registration: UNREG
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries:1 Serious 
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


The noncertificated pilot, who was also the owner of the unregistered, single-seat helicopter, was practicing takeoffs, hovers, and landings; it was his first flight in the accident helicopter. After the first successful takeoff and landing, the pilot attempted to perform another takeoff. During the second takeoff attempt, the helicopter gained altitude and began yawing left. The helicopter climbed to about 60 ft and continued to yaw, and it then descended and impacted terrain.

Although the pilot had received about 60 hours of dual flight instruction in two other make and model helicopters during the previous 2 years, he had not received instruction in the accident make and model helicopter. Given that the pilot's most recent logged flight experience with an instructor occurred nearly 17 months before the accident and that this was his first flight in the accident helicopter, it is likely that his lack of recent flight experience and lack of training and experience in the accident helicopter make and model contributed to his inability to maintain helicopter control.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The noncertificated pilot's failure to maintain helicopter control during takeoff. Contributing to the accident were the pilot's lack of recent flight experience and his lack of training and experience in the accident helicopter make and model. 


Performance/control parameters - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)
Qualification/certification - Pilot (Factor)
Total experience - Pilot (Factor)
Total experience w/ equipment - Pilot (Factor)
Training with equipment - Pilot (Factor)

Factual Information 

On January 21, 2018, about 1545 eastern standard time, an unregistered Mosquito XEL helicopter was substantially damaged after a loss of control and collision with terrain near Loxahatchee, Florida. The non-certificated pilot/owner was seriously injured. The flight was operated in accordance with Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a no flight plan was filed for the flight that departed a private residence.

The pilot/owner was performing a test flight. This was his first flight in the accident helicopter. He performed a brief takeoff to a hover maneuver followed by a normal landing. During the second attempted takeoff and hover, the helicopter gained altitude and began yawing to the left. It reached treetop height of about 60 ft and continued to spin before descending and impacting the ground.

The single-seat helicopter was purchased by the pilot/owner in a ready to operate condition. It was equipped with a two-blade, semi-rigid main rotor system and was powered by a Compact Radial, MZ202, 60 hp engine.

An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) responded to the accident site and inspected the wreckage. The helicopter's skids, lower fuselage, main rotor blades, and tail boom were all damaged during the accident. Review of FAA airworthiness records revealed that the helicopter was not registered and it never received an airworthiness certificate. In addition, there were no maintenance records.

At 1553, the reported weather at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) West Palm Beach, Florida, located 12 nautical miles east of the accident site included: winds from 080° at 16 knots, 10 miles visibility, few clouds at 2,000 ft, broken clouds at 6,500 ft, temperature 24° C, dew point 18° C, and an altimeter setting of 30.14 inches of mercury.

According to FAA airman records, the pilot did not possess any FAA-issued pilot certificate. The FAA Inspector reported that the pilot had accumulated about 60 hours of dual instruction in two other make and model helicopters over the preceding 24 months. The pilot's logbook indicated that his last logged flight occurred on August 13, 2016.

History of Flight

Loss of control in flight (Defining event)

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

Pilot Information

Certificate: None
Age: 67, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Single
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: None, None
Last FAA Medical Exam: Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 70 hours (Total, all aircraft), 0 hours (Total, this make and model), 0 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: MOSQUITO
Registration: UNREG
Model/Series: XEL
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate:
Serial Number: MXE1289
Landing Gear Type: Skid
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  Unknown
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 584 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: MZ202
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: 
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 60 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: PBI, 20 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 15 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2053 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 90°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 2000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 6500 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 16 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 80°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.14 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / 18°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: LOXAHATCHEE, FL
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: LOXAHATCHEE, FL
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1545 EST
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 26.729444, -80.311667 (est)


  1. Just another typical Mosquito XEL flight. Not registered and crashed in the yard by the not certified "pilot".

    1. Do you need a pilot license to own and fly these?

    2. I had a look into this, from what I can tell the Mosquito XEL has to have floats instead of skids installed to lower the weight enough to place it under Part 103 Ultralight category.

      -You don't need a pilot certification to own an aircraft.

      -Under Part 103 you can fly without a certification.
      -Under Part 103 the aircraft doesn't need airworthiness certification nor does it need to be registered and doesn't need to same maintenance requirements as Part 93 aircraft.

      -Under Part 91 however the pilot needs to be certified. Not sure if a student pilot could be endorsed by an instructor to fly this solo, I would be interested to hear if they could.
      -Under Part 91 aircraft needs airworthiness, guessing this would be an experimental for this aircraft. Would need to be registered. And then all the other typical Part 91 requirements.

  2. Being an part 103 ultralight is it not true this craft does not require registration and the pilot is not required to be certified.
    If so what is the big deal, he took plenty of dual instruction as such he did what he could to be qualified and safe. Sad that it did not work for him this time in this lighter aircraft.
    There are so many errors in this writeup such as "compact radial engine" the engine is a two cylinder inline.

    1. Not sure but I believe that what you are suggesting only applies if the empty weight is below 254 LBS

  3. Rules, regulations, training, and certification are great ... they just don't apply to me.

    Hope he recovers ok.

  4. I have a right to due process.

    1. You're lucky it wasn't your last rites.

  5. If you have a choice, who wants to even fly this piece of crap?

  6. 103.1(e) Weighs less than 254 pounds empty weight, and not capable of more than 55 knots calibrated airspeed at full power in level flight.

    Composite-XF claims the XEL qualifies under part 103 in the same paragraph it says "this aircraft weighs in at 312 pounds". They also list max airspeed at 60 knots and cruise airspeed at 54 knots. A cruise airspeed of 1 knot under 55 doesn't sound like it would qualify either. The report was written up that this was a Part 91 flight and do believe that.

    The "Compact Radial Engine" is just the name of the engine manufacturer, which I believe is now owned by a Chinese company.

    1. Specifically Composite-XF claim the XEL empty weight is 314lbs.

  7. I'm 6'4" and 270-lbs.
    Can I get in one?

    1. Sounds like a death wish to me! Do you want Father to administer Last Rites?

    2. If you were gonna buy this, why not just buy an R22?

  8. I guess he wanted to learn 'on the fly'.

  9. FAA and NTSB: "Discussed the company website and listed specifications of this model of Mosquito; we noted that part 103 of the ultralight regulations didn’t seem to fit this helicopter. The weight and airspeed appear to knock it out of this category. The pilot and witnesses appeared very standoffish." Didn't comply? Then fully cooperate.