Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Bell 206B JetRanger, N134VG: Accident occurred June 29, 2021 at Griffiss International Airport (KRME), Rome, Oneida County, New York

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 Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Albany, New York
Location: Rome, NY 
Accident Number: ERA21LA275
Date & Time: June 29, 2021, 13:47 Local
Registration: N134VG
Aircraft: Bell 206 
Injuries: 3 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional

On June 29, 2021, at 1347 eastern daylight time, a Bell 206B, N134VG, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident at Griffiss International Airport (RME), Rome, New York. The airline transport pilot and two pilot-rated passengers sustained minor injuries. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 instructional flight.

The purpose of the flight was to conduct an initial Part 135 competency check ride for the pilot. On board were two Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspectors, one seated in the left seat performing the check ride, and another in the left rear seat providing oversight and on-the-job training to the other inspector.

According to the pilot, after performing maneuvers, the flight returned to the airport where he was to perform a straight-in autorotation with power recover to runway 33. He briefed the inspectors on the maneuver, carried out clearing turns and landing checks, and entered the autorotation at an altitude of 1,500 ft mean sea level. He lowered the collective and reduced the throttle to idle and maintained a speed of 65 knots. Before the flare, he advanced the throttle to the full open position and noted the power turbine and rotor RPM needles were in the green arc. Both he and the FAA inspector confirmed that the throttle was full open. As he raised the collective for recovery, the low rotor warning light and low rotor warning horn both activated. The engine lost partial power and the helicopter landed hard on the runway and rolled over on to its left side.

According to the FAA inspector seated in the left front seat, as the pilot reduced the collective at the start of the maneuver, he noticed a needle split on the tachometer, and concluded the throttle had been reduced. He did not observe any yawing motion of the helicopter at the time. The helicopter “floated” somewhat after the entry and the descent was smooth. As the airspeed was reduced at the beginning of the recovery, he noticed that the altitude was “slightly high” (he estimated slightly above 100 ft above ground level). He checked the throttle position by attempting to rotate it towards full, and it did not move. He did not recall if he checked the tachometer at that time. He noticed that the helicopter was “higher than usual at the completion of the power recovery,” and then felt the helicopter descend and thought the pilot was lowering the helicopter to a “more reasonable altitude.” As the low rotor RPM horn sounded, he glanced inside and attempted to locate the tachometer but was unable to readily see it. As he looked back outside, the helicopter impacted the ground. After the helicopter came to rest with the engine still running, he rotated the right-side throttle grip to idle, noting that it took several iterations of gripping the throttle and rotating it with his fingers to rotate it to the IDLE position. He then struggled to press the detent button before he was able to rotate the throttle further to the OFF position.

Initial examination of the helicopter by a (third) FAA inspector revealed the helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage above the windscreen and the left horizontal stabilizer.

The helicopter was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Bell
Registration: N134VG
Model/Series: 206 B 
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Commuter air carrier (135)
Operator Designator Code: R73A

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: RME,505 ft msl
Observation Time: 13:49 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 32°C /22°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 9 knots / , 260°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.15 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Rome, NY 
Destination: Rome, NY

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: 43.225037,-75.394489 (est)

Two people suffered minor injuries after a mechanical malfunction forced a helicopter into a hard landing at the Griffiss International Airport in Rome Tuesday afternoon, according to rescue and law enforcement officials.
Sheriff’s investigators said Deekpak Dherny, 69, of Rome, was behind the stick of a civilian helicopter at about 1:47 p.m. when warning alarms started sounding.
Authorities said Dherny was about 100 feet in the air practicing maneuvers with Charles Lewis, 53, of South Carolina, and Joseph Fernandez, 50, of Colorado, both with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Authorities said Dherny began to lower the chopper down for a landing when the whirlybird lost power about 20 to 30 feet above the runway.
The helicopter fell the remaining distance and landed on its skids, then bounced back in the air. The helicopter came down again and this time fell onto its side, officials said, crashing the propeller into the blacktop.
Authorities said Dherny, Lewis and Fernandez were able to climb out the broken windshield under their own power.
Dherny suffered minor cuts to his head and face and he declined medical treatment, authorities said. Lewis suffered an injury to his left shoulder, along with minor cuts, while Fernandez suffered an injury to his lower back, officials stated. Both men were taken to Rome Memorial Hospital for treatment.
City fire officials said there were no flames in the crash. The Griffiss Fire Department sprayed down the leaking fuel with foam.
The FAA is expected to investigate the crash at a later date.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely did not have a mechanical problem. This was a hot day with a heavy aircraft that flared to high in the autorotation producing low rotor rpm. 100% pilot error! This is a failure of training by the 135 operator, Pilot and FAA.