Thursday, March 12, 2020

Ground Collision: Bell 407GX, N450AM; accident occurred March 03, 2019 in Union Center, Meade County, South Dakota

Bell 407GX, N450AM
Federal Aviation Administration

Tail Boom 
Federal Aviation Administration

Federal Aviation Administration

Bell 407GX, N450AM
Air Methods Corp

Air Methods Corp

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Rapid City, South Dakota

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Union Center, SD
Accident Number: CEN19LA092
Date & Time: 03/03/2019, 0013 MST
Registration: N450AM
Aircraft: Bell 407
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Ground collision
Injuries: 1 Minor, 2 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled - Air Medical (Unspecified)

On March 3, 2019, about 0013 mountain standard time, a Bell 407 helicopter, N450AM, was substantially damaged after landing near Union Center, South Dakota. The pilot and flight nurse were not injured. The flight paramedic sustained minor injuries. The helicopter sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was owned by Air Methods and operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. Dark night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a company visual flight rules flight plan was filed and activated for the flight. The on-demand air medical flight departed Spearfish, South Dakota, about 2337, and was en route to Union Center to pick up a patient.

The helicopter had arrived at the landing zone at Union Center to pick up a patient. After landing, the pilot rolled the engine throttle to idle and briefed the flight crew that they were clear to depart the helicopter. About 20 seconds into the "cool down" process the ground ambulance drove towards the helicopter and subsequently the main rotor blades impacted the top of the ambulance. The flight paramedic was thrown to the ground during the collision. The main rotor blades, tail boom, and fuselage sustained substantial damage. The ground ambulance driver saw the crew open the doors and get out of the helicopter, so he moved the ambulance forward to get closer to the helicopter. The ground ambulance driver stated that he did not realize "that the helicopter blades were still rotating."

Air Methods confirmed that the ambulance driver had received their training. A review of that training indicated that ground personnel are not to approach the aircraft until the blades had stopped rotation. The training also indicated that ground vehicle lights should be turned off while the helicopter is landing. An excerpt from the Air Methods General Operations Manual stated that ground personnel "will not come beneath the rotor disk until directed to do so by the pilot in command; the pilot will use appropriate hand signals to do so."

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial; Private
Age: 36
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
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 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 10/02/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 11/27/2018
Flight Time:  2138 hours (Total, all aircraft), 130 hours (Total, this make and model), 2138 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 18 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Bell
Registration: N450AM
Model/Series: 407
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 54435
Landing Gear Type: High Skid; Skid;
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 03/01/2019, Continuous Airworthiness
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 5250 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Shaft
Airframe Total Time: 2105 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Rolls Royce
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: 250-C47B
Registered Owner: Air Methods Corp
Rated Power: 650 hp
Operator: Air Methods Corp
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand Air Taxi (135)
Operator Does Business As: Black Hills Life Flight
Operator Designator Code: QMLA

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night/Dark
Observation Facility, Elevation: KRAP, 3203 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site:
Observation Time: 0052 MST
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 13 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 330°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.42 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: -24°C / -29°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Spearfish, SD (KSPF)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Destination: Union Center, SD
Type of Clearance: Traffic Advisory; None
Departure Time: 2337 MST
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor, 2 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor, 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 44.564722, -102.661389 (est)

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