Friday, January 10, 2020

Low Altitude Operation/Event: Robinson R66 Turbine, N1767L; accident occurred August 02, 2019 in Vandalia, Fayette County, Illinois

View of damaged main rotor blade. 

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Springfield, Illinois

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Vandalia, IL
Accident Number: GAA19CA481
Date & Time: 08/02/2019, 1535 CDT
Registration: N1767L
Aircraft: Robinson R66
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural


The helicopter pilot reported that, during high reconnaissance of a field intended for agricultural application, he saw power lines surrounding the field. He started the application southbound from the northwest section, and after travelling about 300 yards and while about 15 ft above ground level, the helicopter struck a power line, after which the pilot was able to land the helicopter on an adjacent field without further incident.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the main rotor blade.

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

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from power lines during an agricultural application flight. 


Personnel issues Monitoring environment - Pilot
Aircraft Altitude - Not attained/maintained
Environmental issues Wire - Effect on operation

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying Low altitude operation/event (Defining event)
Maneuvering-low-alt flying Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial; Private
Age: 41, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
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: 06/10/2019
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 06/05/2019
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 6696 hours (Total, all aircraft), 94 hours (Total, this make and model), 6636 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 217 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 145 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 5.7 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Robinson
Registration: N1767L
Model/Series: R66 No Series
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 0044
Landing Gear Type: Skid
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  Unknown
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: Turbo Shaft
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: Rolls-Royce
Engine Model/Series: 250-R300
Registered Owner: Helicrops Llc
Rated Power:
Operator: Helicrops Llc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: K3LF, 690 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 27 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2035 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 295°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 4200 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 7 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 50°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.08 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 19°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Vandalia, IL (VLA)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Destination: Vandalia, IL (VLA)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1530 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 38.975278, -89.142500 (est)

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