Thursday, February 18, 2021

Loss of Engine Power (Total): Aerospatiale AS-350B-2 Ecureuil, N188FS; accident occurred February 18, 2020 at Tampa Executive Airport (KVDF), Hillsborough County, Florida

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Tampa, Florida

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Hillsborough County (FL) Sheriff's Department 

Location: Tampa, Florida 
Accident Number: ERA20CA106
Date & Time: February 18, 2020, 15:50 Local 
Registration: N188FS
Aircraft: Aerospatiale AS350 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (total)
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional


The flight instructor in the helicopter reported that he directed the pilot receiving instruction to conduct an autorotation with a 180° turn, followed by a power recovery. Abeam the departure end of runway, he moved the throttle lever from the "fly" position to idle. While conducting the maneuver, the pilot overshot the runway and aligned the helicopter with the parallel taxiway. Upon realizing that the helicopter was not in the correct position, the pilots chose to abort the maneuver and perform a goaround. While the pilot continued to fly the helicopter, the instructor inadvertently moved the throttle lever from idle aft toward the "off" position and then forward to the "fly" position. The engine experienced a total loss of power, and the instructor adjusted the throttle to no avail. As the helicopter descended, the pilot requested that the instructor "get on the controls." The instructor took the controls, conducted a power-off autorotation, and landed the helicopter on the taxiway. The helicopter skidded about 180 ft, departed the taxiway onto adjacent grass, and came to rest in a drainage ditch. The instructor reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation. The Federal Aviation Administrator inspector who examined the helicopter reported that the left antivibrator mount beam had sustained substantial damage.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The flight instructor's inadvertent throttle reduction below idle, which resulted in a total loss of engine power and subsequent impact with terrain following a power-off autorotation. 


Personnel issues Use of equip/system - Instructor/check pilot
Aircraft Fuel controlling system - Unintentional use/operation

Factual Information

History of Flight

Autorotation Landing area undershoot
Autorotation Attempted remediation/recovery
Autorotation Loss of engine power (total) (Defining event)
Landing Loss of control on ground
Landing Runway excursion
Landing Collision during takeoff/land

Flight instructor Information

Certificate: Airline transport; Commercial 
Age: 56,Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land; Multi-engine land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane; Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Helicopter 
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: April 16, 2019
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: June 20, 2019
Flight Time: (Estimated) 12088 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1226 hours (Total, this make and model), 11023 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 49 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 11 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Student pilot Information

Certificate: Private 
Age: 32,Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land 
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane 
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None 
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With waivers/limitations 
Last FAA Medical Exam: July 22, 2019
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: September 25, 2009
Flight Time: (Estimated) 225 hours (Total, all aircraft), 104 hours (Total, this make and model), 118 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 67 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 23 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Aerospatiale
Registration: N188FS
Model/Series: AS350 B2 
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 2014 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal 
Serial Number: 7863
Landing Gear Type: High skid 
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: October 9, 2019 100 hour 
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 4961 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo shaft
Airframe Total Time: 2627.3 Hrs at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: SAFRAN/Turbomeca
ELT: C126 installed, not activated 
Engine Model/Series: Arriel 1D1
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 72195 Horsepower
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC) 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: VDF, 22 ft msl 
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 21:15 Local 
Direction from Accident Site: 66°
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 4900 ft AGL 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots / 14 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 160° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.09 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 19°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Tampa, FL (TPF) 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Tampa, FL (VDF)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 15:45 Local 
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Tampa Executive VDF 
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 21 ft msl
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 18
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3219 ft / 75 ft 
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced landing; Simulated forced landing

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 28.013889,-82.345275(est)


  1. Replies
    1. Hah I totally missed that little detail! I'm not sure how someone can type 72195 instead of 712 unless his/her keyboard took a crap and the person didn't pay attention when filling in that field in the online report form.

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