Friday, November 06, 2020

Agusta A109S Grand, N109EX: Accident occurred November 06, 2020 in Los Angeles, California

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.

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; LAX FSDO Los Angeles, California
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; VNY FSDO Van Nuys, California 

Prime Healthcare Air Transportation LLC

Location: Los Angeles, CA 
Accident Number: WPR21LA039
Date & Time: November 6, 2020, 15:00 Local 
Registration: N109EX
Aircraft: Agusta A109 
Injuries: 1 Minor, 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air taxi & commuter - Non-scheduled

On November 6, 2020, about 1500 Pacific daylight time, an Agusta A109S helicopter, N109EX, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident at the University of Southern California (USC) Keck Medical Center (USC Keck), Los Angeles, California. The pilot sustained minor injuries, and the two passengers were uninjured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal
Regulations Part 135 Helicopter air ambulance flight.

The pilot reported that he established the helicopter in a steep approach, to land on the rooftop helipad of a multi-story medical building. The pilot had offset his heading to the left to gain greater visibility to the landing zone. He observed the absence of any wind indication from the windsock and no movement on nearby trees. When the helicopter had decelerated to about 45 knots, he increased the engine and rotor RPM to 102%. About 40 feet above the helipad, the pilot noticed a slight yaw to the right that continued despite full left pedal application. He thought to fly away from the helipad when the helicopter aligned in the direction he just approached from. As the helicopter rotated to about 90° from his approach heading, it suddenly and very violently made a dramatic increase in right yaw. Realizing the helicopter was going to be uncontrollable, the pilot “dumped the collective” and tried to stay over the helipad. He stated that after the helicopter struck the helipad, it rolled left and continued spinning on its side, and eventually came to a stop. The pilot performed an emergency shut down of the engines and exited the helicopter unassisted. The passengers exited unassisted.

A review of a witness video, (See figure 1), taken from an adjacent building, revealed the helicopter approached the rooftop helipad while slowly rotating clockwise about the vertical axis. The helicopter stopped descending and rotated 360°. The helicopter then descended while rotating an additional 180° and rolled to the left before impacting the helipad. The main rotor blades contacted the helipad, followed by the left main landing gear and the fuselage. The helicopter descended out of view of the camera. 

The helicopter came to rest on its left side, on the helipad. The four composite blades of the main rotor system fragmented and separated, spreading debris throughout the rooftop and down to the ground. The tail rotor and 90° gearbox separated and were found on the rooftop. The left main landing gear separated and remained near the attachment points of the fuselage. (See figure 2.)

The wreckage was relocated to a secured facility for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Agusta Registration: N109EX
Model/Series: A109 S Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Operating Certificate(s)
On-demand air taxi (135)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site: 
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling:
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor, 2 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor, 2 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 34.058037,-118.20811 (est)

LINCOLN HEIGHTS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- One patient was treated after a helicopter crashed and was seen on its side on the helipad of the Keck Hospital of USC in the Lincoln Heights area Friday afternoon.

The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the hospital on the 1500 block of San Pablo Street around 3 p.m. but there was no fire or known leak of fuel from the rotorcraft.

The agency added that the private air ambulance helicopter was transporting a donated organ to the hospital. Fire officials later said the donated organ was "safely retrieved" and handed over to hospital staff.

Officials initially said two people were being treated. They later clarified that one patient was transported with minor injuries and two other people who were on board the aircraft declined medical treatment.

No one on the ground was injured.

Details about what led up to the incident were not immediately available.

Norfolk Street was closed between Soto and San Pablo streets, and the public was being urged to avoid the area until further notice.


  1. It is true that the donated organ was "safely retrieved" and handed over to hospital staff. They tripped before getting off the helideck platform, but everything turned out okay.

  2. I saw the video ..... lucky they stayed on the rooftop.

    1. You didn't see the heart slide across the deck unless you watched the link in the comment above. The heart got dropped when the man walking with it tripped and fell.

      Yes, it is good that the chopper stayed on the roof deck.

    2. New video shows approach and apparent loss of tail rotor effectiveness:

  3. Full sequence video from hospital window