Saturday, August 15, 2020

Loss of Control in Flight: Robinson R22, N787SH; fatal accident occurred June 29, 2018 in Sterling City, Texas

Ewing Fowler “Mackey” McEntire
May 27th, 1952 - June 29th, 2018

Mackey had a passion for aviation. In 1982, he began a helicopter service business called Concho Aviation ... one of the first businesses of its kind in West Texas. Concho Aviation grew into a multi-pilot, multi-helicopter business operation serving clients throughout the states of Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lubbock, Texas
Robinson Helicopters; Torrence, California
Lycoming Engines, Williamsport, Pennsylvania 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Sterling City, TX
Accident Number:CEN18FA244
Date & Time: 06/29/2018, 2010 CDT
Registration: N787SH
Aircraft: Robinson R22
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Other Work Use

On June 29, 2018, about 2010 central daylight time, a Robinson R22B, N787SH, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Sterling, Texas. The pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 work use flight.

The purpose of the flight was to inspect a nearby stock water tank and inoperative water pump. The pilot had completed the flight and was returning to land on the helicopter's trailer when the accident occurred.

A witness, who was located at the home base, stated that she saw the helicopter make an approach to land on the trailer, but the pilot aborted the landing, and the helicopter backed away from the trailer and climbed. The helicopter then began "a violent spin" as it climbed to 20 to 25 ft above the ground. The helicopter spun 4 or 5 times, then the witness heard a loud noise like an engine backfire and the helicopter "fell" to the ground. She could not recall whether she heard the engine producing power following the backfire noise. The witness stated that she thought the spin was in the counterclockwise direction but was not positive. She did not see the impact because of building obstructions. The engine was not running when she reached the helicopter.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 66, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied:Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/21/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 08/15/2017
Flight Time: (Estimated) 28000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 20000 hours (Total, this make and model), 250 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 90 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Robinson
Registration: N787SH
Model/Series: R22 BETA
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 2004
Amateur Built:No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 3627
Landing Gear Type:Ski;
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/19/2018, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1369 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 17 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 6017.3 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: O-360 SERIES
Registered Owner: Concho Aviation LLC
Rated Power: 145 hp
Operator: Concho Aviation LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

The helicopter was configured with a single set of flight controls (pedals, collective, and cyclic) at the right seat. The left seat pilot controls were not installed, and the cover plate for the removed left pedal assembly was not installed. The operator stated that the helicopter was routinely used in cattle roundup and predator mitigation operations. The helicopter had flown a previous flight of about 3.7 hours on the morning of the accident. The pilot who conducted that flight did not report any anomalies with the helicopter.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Distance from Accident Site:
Observation Time: 2030 CDT
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 1000 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 10 knots / 3 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 180°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting:
Temperature/Dew Point: 95°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Sterling City, TX
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Destination: Sterling City, TX
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1958 CDT
Type of Airspace:

A company pilot reported that the wind was about 10-12 knots from the south about the time of the accident.

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries:N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 31.860000, -101.086111 (est)

The accident site was located about 200 ft from its intended landing site on the transport trailer. The helicopter impacted level terrain and came to rest on its right side. There was no evidence of contact with obstructions during the approach. The fuselage sustained impact damage to its lower right side. Both pilot and passenger doors were not installed. Three ammunition cans containing tools and several loose shotgun shells (discharged and undischarged) were present within the wreckage area. Several shotgun shells were recovered from the left floor area, the belly area, and in the debris field. One shotgun shell had a dent in the plastic shell.

Examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any pre-impact mechanical anomalies. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to the flight control surfaces.

The ammunition boxes were placed on the left side cockpit floor to observe the geometry of the boxes in relation to the removed left pedal assembly. The edge of the most-forward box covered the top of the left side pedal receiver when the right pedal was positioned aft of neutral. Due to impact damage the position of the ammunition boxes and dented shotgun shell during the flight could not be determined.

Detailed airframe and engine examination findings are included in the public docket for this accident.

Medical And Pathological Information

South Plains Forensic Pathology, Lubbock, Texas, performed an autopsy of the pilot. The pilot's cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries.

The FAA's Forensic Sciences Laboratory performed toxicology testing on the pilot's tissue samples. The toxicology tests were negative for drugs and ethanol. Small amounts of over-the-counter medicine for hay fever and allergies were present.

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