Monday, June 21, 2021

Loss of Control in Flight: Robinson R44 Beta II, N445AP; accident occurred June 21, 2019 in La Ward, Jackson County, Texas


Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Houston, Texas

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: La Ward, Texas 
Accident Number: CEN19TA178
Date & Time: June 21, 2019, 12:15 Local 
Registration: N445AP
Aircraft: Robinson R44
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural


The pilot was conducting helicopter aerial applications to a field and had just reversed course when he felt the helicopter start to descend. The pilot added power, "rolled the throttle all the way on," and increased collective and the descent continued. The pilot flared the helicopter and before it impacted the ground, the helicopter rolled and came to rest in a field, resulting in substantial damage. It is likely that the pilot lost control of the helicopter during the turn, resulting in the unexpected descent. Because the helicopter was at low altitude, the pilot did not have time to arrest the descent before impacting the ground.

Postaccident examination found no mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operations.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s failure to maintain helicopter control during a course reversal, which resulted in impact with terrain.


Aircraft Descent rate - Not attained/maintained
Personnel issues Aircraft control - Pilot

Factual Information

On June 21, 2019, about 1215 central daylight time, a Robinson R44 helicopter, N445AP, was substantially damaged when it impacted a field near La Ward, Texas. The commercial pilot was not injured. The aerial application flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flight plan had been filed for the flight.

According to the pilot, during the aerial application flight to a field he had just reversed his course and was preparing for the next application pass when he felt the helicopter start to descend. The pilot added power and the descent continued. The pilot "rolled the throttle all the way on" and increased collective without a change in the decent rate. As the helicopter descended towards the field it started to shake; the pilot flared the helicopter and before it impacted the ground, the helicopter rolled and then came to rest
in the field.

According to the FAA inspector who responded to the accident, the tail boom separated from the helicopter, the fuselage was wrinkled, the landing skids collapsed, and the main rotor was impact damaged. He stated that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operations.

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying Loss of control in flight (Defining event)
Uncontrolled descent Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial; Flight instructor
Age: 24, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None 
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter 
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter 
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Helicopter 
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: November 4, 2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: May 9, 2018
Flight Time: 1201 hours (Total, all aircraft), 573 hours (Total, this make and model), 1111.4 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 281 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 102 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 11 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Robinson 
Registration: N445AP
Model/Series: R44 II
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 2007 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal 
Serial Number: 11607
Landing Gear Type: N/A; Skid 
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: January 24, 2019 100 hour 
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 2359 Hrs 
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated 
Engine Model/Series: IO-540-AE1A5
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 205 Horsepower
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural aircraft (137)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC) 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KPSX
Distance from Accident Site:
Observation Time: 12:53 Local 
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2400 ft AGL
Visibility 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 3100 ft AGL
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 17 knots / 23 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 160° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.9 inches Hg 
Temperature/Dew Point: 32°C / 24°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: La Ward, TX (TX0)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: La Ward, TX (TX0)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 07:00 Local
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 28.878334,-96.430831

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