Saturday, December 05, 2020

Robinson R44 Raven II, N440AH: Accident occurred December 14, 2019 in San Antonio, Texas

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. 

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Antonio, Texas
Federal Aviation Administration / Rotorcraft Standards Branch AIR-680; Fort Worth, Texas
Robinson Helicopter Company; Torrance, California 

Alamo Helicopter Tours San Antonio LLC

Location: San Antonio, TX 
Accident Number: ERA20LA054
Date & Time: December 14, 2019, 16:56 Local 
Registration: N440AH
Aircraft: Robinson R44 Injuries: 3 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Other work use

On December 14, 2019, about 1656 central standard time, a Robinson R44 Raven II, N440AH, experienced a loss of engine power during cruise flight and was substantially damaged during a subsequent autorotation in San Antonio, Texas. The commercial pilot and two passengers sustained minor injuries. The helicopter was operated by Alamo Helicopter Tours San Antonio, LLC. The flight was operating under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a revenue sightseeing flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the intended 30-minute local flight, which departed from Stinson Municipal Airport (SSF), San Antonio, Texas, about 1650.

According to the pilot, he traveled about 2 miles from SSF when he heard a "pop" sound. The helicopter experienced a loss of engine power and yawed to the left. The pilot performed an autorotation; however, the helicopter struck power lines during the descent and impacted a road about 3 miles north of SSF.

Initial examination of the engine revealed no mechanical issues that would have precluded normal operation. The wreckage was retained for further examination to include examination of the actuator lower bearing brackets and sprag clutch assembly.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness records, the helicopter was manufactured in 2010. It was equipped with a Lycoming, 245-horsepower IO-540-AE1A5 engine. The most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on September 21, 2019.

According to FAA airmen records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument helicopter. In addition, he held a flight instructor certificate with a rating for rotorcraft-helicopter. At the time of the accident, the pilot held an FAA second-class medical certificate issued on June 18, 2019. A review of the pilot's logbook revealed a total of 1,377 hours of flight experience, all of which were in helicopters.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Robinson 
Registration: N440AH
Model/Series: R44 II 
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Commercial air tour (136)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: SAT 
Observation Time: 16:51 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C /6°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear / 25000 ft AGL
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots / , 100°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.87 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: San Antonio, TX (SSF)
Destination: San Antonio, TX (SSF)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Minor 
Latitude, Longitude: 29.377777,-98.476387 (est)

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