Friday, March 06, 2020

Eurocopter EC 130B4, N11QK: Accident occurred March 05, 2020 in Kalapana, Hawaii

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Honolulu, Hawaii
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters; Hilo, Hawaii

Location: Kalapana, HI
Accident Number: ANC20LA028
Date & Time: 03/05/2020, 1130 HST
Registration: N11QK
Aircraft: Eurocopter EC130
Injuries: 2 Minor, 4 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled - Sightseeing 

On March 5, 2020, about 1130 Hawaii standard time, a Airbus EC130 B4 helicopter, N11QK, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident, about 6 miles north of Kalapana, Hawaii. Of the six occupants on board, the commercial pilot and three passengers were uninjured, and two passengers sustained minor injuries. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 flight.

According to the pilot, the accident helicopter was the second of two commercial air tour helicopters departing Hilo International Airport (PHTO). After departure, they flew in a southerly direction and remained slightly offshore for a short time before turning west along the shoreline. The two helicopters proceeded to a geographic area known as the "Old Ocean Entry." As the helicopter passed over the shoreline, the pilot noticed a significant, high frequency airframe vibration. He said that as soon as the vibration started, the tail rotor chip annunciator light briefly illuminated, and as the vibration continued, the tail rotor chip light "flickered." The vibration and noise stopped after a few seconds and the chip light extinguished. He selected a large open area as a precautionary landing site and slowed the helicopter on the approach. As the helicopter slowed, he raised the collective, and applied right tail rotor pedal, but the nose of the helicopter veered to the left. The pilot noted that he eventually applied full right tail rotor pedal, but the nose of the helicopter continued to the left. At about 200 feet above ground level, with the right tail rotor pedal fully depressed, the helicopter began to spin to the left. In an effort to stop the spin, he attempted to gain forward airspeed, but eventually closed the engine throttle and preformed a hovering autorotation. He said the helicopter descended, touched down hard, and subsequently rolled on its right side, sustaining substantial damage to the fuselage, tail boom, and the main rotor drive system.

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed that one of the ten tail rotor fenestron blades fractured at the blade root, and it subsequently deflected off the fenestron drive shaft, creating an imbalance, which was followed by the failure of the drive shaft. The tail rotor chip detector cannon plug was found to have an intermittent connection, and an inspection of the tail rotor gearbox magnetic drain plug revealed very small metallic particles. All ten tail rotor fenestron blades have been retained and shipped to the NTSB's Materials Laboratory for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Eurocopter
Registration: N11QK
Model/Series: EC130 B4
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Helicopter Consultants of Maui LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  Commercial Air Tour (136); Agricultural Aircraft (137); Rotorcraft External Load (133); On-demand Air Taxi (135)
Operator Does Business As: Blue Hawaiian Helicopters
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light:Day 
Observation Facility, Elevation: PHTO
Observation Time: 2153 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 18 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C / 18°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 2500 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 80°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 3800 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.07 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Kalapana, HI
Destination: Kalapana, HI

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 Minor, 3 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor, 4 None
Latitude, Longitude: 19.438611, -155.000000 (est)

A Blue Hawaiian Helicopters tour rotorcraft with six onboard made an emergency landing in a lava field in the Leilani Estates area shortly before noon Thursday.

There were no serious injuries among those onboard the flight, which originated at Hilo International Airport.

Initial reports put the landing site near the Pahoa Transfer Station, but that was later updated to about five miles southwest of Pahoa. A statement from Mayor Harry Kim’s office said the site in a grassy clearing within a forested area near an old geothermal site off Highway 130 and Ala ‘Ili Road.

“A Eurocopter EC130 was conducting an air tour when the rotorcraft experienced engine problems,” Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said in an email.

The pilot made a precautionary landing, and the rotorcraft rolled over, he said.

A county helicopter was among the eight Hawaii Fire Department Units responding to the 11:35 a.m. call. The county chopper flew the pilot and five passengers to the Pahoa Fire Station where they were examined by medics. Five of the six were transported to Hilo Medical Center as a precautionary measure, the mayor’s office said. All were reported to be ambulatory and in good condition.

“They seemed to be alright,” said Hawaii Fire Department Capt. Chris Mantz.

A fire department statement said 13 personnel were involved in the response.

“All we know is we got a call of a helicopter down — and I use the word ‘down’ because we don’t know if it was a crash or a hard landing,” added Hawaii Police Department Capt. John Briski, the Puna Patrol Division commander. “Everyone is accounted for, and they were all transported back here.”

Briski said it took his officers “a while” to access the crash scene because of the remote nature of the incident’s site.

Quentin Koch, president of Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, issued a statement Thursday afternoon.

“On March 5th, a Blue Hawaiian rotorcraft was in flight near the Leilani Estates area when the pilot conducted a precautionary landing,” Koch said. “The helicopter had launched from the Hilo base on the ‘Circle of Fire’ tour. The five passengers onboard and the pilot are safe.

“The safety of our passengers and pilot are our always top priority, and the pilot’s decision to safely land the rotorcraft is always the right decision.”

Koch said local emergency services were called, and the company notified the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board.

A Blue Hawaiian Helicopters rotorcraft made an unplanned landing on Aug. 19, 2018, at Shipman Beach in Keaau. No injuries were reported.

The most recent fatal tour helicopter crash was that of a Safari Helicopters on Dec. 26 in Kokee State Park on Kauai. The pilot and all six passengers were killed. A preliminary investigation didn’t state a cause but cited a witness reporting “adverse weather conditions” at the time.

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters and its registrant company, Helicopter Consultants of Maui LLC, have been involved in two fatal crashes — neither of which occurred on the Big Island — since 2000.

On Nov. 10, 2011, a Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Airbus EC130 crashed on Molokai, killing five people. The investigation concluded the crash was due to pilot error while operating in “marginal weather conditions.”

And on July 21, 2000, an Airbus 355 helicopter operated by Helicopter Consultants of Maui crashed near Kahului after striking a mountain at about 2,900 feet. Seven people were killed.

The NTSB cited weather-related factors and a failure by the pilot to maintain adequate ground clearance in low-ceiling conditions.

Original article ➤

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