Sunday, May 03, 2020

Part(s) Separation From Rotorcraft: AgustaWestland AW119 MKII, N982SS; accident occurred March 21, 2020 at Northeast Philadelphia Airport (KPNE), Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
Agenzia Nazionale per la Sicurezza del Volo
Leonardo S.p.A.
Agustawestland Philadelphia Corporation

Location: Philadelphia, PA
Accident Number: ERA20CA135
Date & Time: 03/21/2020, 1542 EDT
Registration: N982SS
Aircraft: AgustaWestland AW119MKII
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Part(s) separation from Rotorcraft 
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Flight Test 


The pilot and the flight test engineer were completing a production test flight of the helicopter. A review of a surveillance video showed that, as they were preparing to land, the lower section of the left side of the engine cowling folded back and struck all four main rotor blades, which resulted in substantial damage to the blades. According to the operator/manufacturer, postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed that none of the fasteners on the left side of the cowling remained attached and that three of the fasteners were missing. No evidence of any preaccident discrepancies with the fasteners, the cowling, or the design and conformity of the helicopter structure was found.

According to the manufacturer/operator, before the flight, the pilot reported to maintenance personnel that he had seen that the fasteners attaching the generator duct to the right side of the same cowling appeared long. Maintenance personnel then removed the one-piece engine cowling, and a mechanic then replaced the generator duct fasteners and reinstalled the cowling with the help of another mechanic. The mechanic said he specifically fastened each of the fasteners on the cowling himself and checked all the fasteners after the cowling was reinstalled. Once the cowling was reinstalled, a quality inspector visually inspected the engine cowling fasteners. He did not see any anomalies and signed off that the work had been completed. The flight test engineer performed another preflight inspection of the helicopter and did not note any issues with any of the cowling fasteners. It is likely that the mechanic did not properly install the cowling fasteners before the flight, which resulted in the cowling coming loose and striking
the main rotor blades.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The in-flight failure of the lower left side of the engine cowling due to the mechanic's improper installation of the fasteners, which resulted in the cowling impacting all four main rotor blades.


Aircraft Fasteners - Incorrect service/maintenance
Personnel issues Installation - Maintenance personnel
Aircraft (general) - Failure

Factual Information

History of Flight

Prior to flight Aircraft maintenance event
Approach Part(s) separation from AC (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Commercial; Private
Age: 53, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s):  Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Helicopter; Instrument Airplane; Instrument Helicopter
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 10/10/2019
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 02/11/2020
Flight Time:  4629 hours (Total, all aircraft), 902 hours (Total, this make and model), 2337 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 33 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 5 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: AgustaWestland
Registration: N982SS
Model/Series: AW119MKII
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture:2020 
Amateur Built:No 
Airworthiness Certificate: Special Flight
Serial Number: 14962
Landing Gear Type: Skid
Date/Type of Last Inspection:
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 6283 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Shaft
Airframe Total Time: 6.1 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt & Whitney
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: PT6B-37A
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 900 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: PNE, 120 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time:1554 EDT 
Direction from Accident Site: 0°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 4 knots / 16 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: Variable
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.01 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / -4°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Philadelphia, PA (PNE)
Type of Flight Plan Filed:VFR 
Destination: Philadelphia, PA (PNE)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 1450 EDT
Type of Airspace:Class D 

Airport Information

Airport: Northeast Philadelphia (PNE)
Runway Surface Type: Concrete
Airport Elevation:120 ft 
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach:None 
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 40.083333, -75.001389 (est)


  1. Flightaware shows a 3 April flight, so whatever happened in March must have been easily corrected, back to service.

  2. Additional production test flights continue throughout May 2020.


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