Sunday, May 03, 2020

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

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

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Philadelphia, PA
Accident Number: ERA20CA135
Date & Time: 03/21/2020, 1542 EDT
Registration: N982SS
Aircraft: AugustaWestland 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 had just completed a production test flight of the helicopter and were preparing to land when the lower section of the left side of the engine cowling folded back and struck all 4 main rotor blades and made contact with all 4 main rotor blades at some point prior to the rotor stopping, resulting in substantial damage. According to the operator/manufacturer, none of the fasteners on the left side of the cowling remained attached and 3 of the fasteners were missing.

Prior to the flight, the pilot observed that the fasteners attaching the generator duct to the right side of the same cowling appeared long and reported it to maintenance. No anomalies were observed with the fasteners attaching the cowling to the airframe. Maintenance then removed the one-piece engine cowling and a mechanic replaced the generator duct fasteners before reinstalling the cowling with the help of another mechanic. The mechanic said he specifically fastened each of the fasteners on the cowling himself and did a 100% check of each fastener after the cowling was installed. Once the cowling was reinstalled a quality inspector visually inspected the engine cowling fasteners. He did not observe any anomalies and signed off that the work had been completed. Prior to the accident flight, the flight test engineer performed another preflight inspection of the helicopter and did not observe any obvious issues with any of the cowling fasteners. The helicopter then departed and flew for about an hour before the cowling folded back. Postaccident examination of the cowling by the operator/manufacturer revealed no evidence of any preaccident discrepancies with the fasteners/cowling, or the design and conformity of the helicopter structure.

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: AugustaWestland
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.