Monday, July 19, 2021

Low Altitude Operation/Event: Robinson R44 Astro, N570WH; accident occurred July 20, 2020 in Dickeyville, Grant County, Wisconsin

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

MF Helicopters LLC

 Location: Dickeyville, Wisconsin
Accident Number: CEN20CA300
Date & Time: July 20, 2020, 13:40 Local 
Registration: N570WH
Aircraft: Robinson R44 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural


The pilot reported that while performing an aerial application flight at low altitude, the helicopter impacted wires between two poles. He stated the wires were higher than he expected due to the change in terrain contours relative to the poles, and he did not see the wires until just before impact. He then performed a precautionary landing to an adjacent waterway. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the main rotor blades. The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot did not maintain clearance from wires during an aerial application flight.


Personnel issues Monitoring environment - Pilot
Environmental issues Wire - Effect on operation

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying Low altitude operation/event (Defining event)
Maneuvering-low-alt flying Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline transport; Commercial; Flight instructor
Age: 42, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land; Multi-engine land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter 
Restraint Used: 5-point
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane multi-engine; Airplane single-engine; Instrument airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 With waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: October 23, 2019
Occupational Pilot: Yes 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: May 19, 2020
Flight Time: 7700 hours (Total, all aircraft), 380 hours (Total, this make and model), 6100 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 145 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 107 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 8 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Robinson 
Registration: N570WH
Model/Series: R44 Undesignated
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1998 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 0538
Landing Gear Type: N/A; Skid 
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: September 13, 2019 Annual 
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 86 Hrs 
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 4581 Hrs at time of accident 
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: O-540-F1B5
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 235 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: PVB,1024 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 13:35 Local
Direction from Accident Site: 30°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 6000 ft AGL
Visibility 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 3 knots / Turbulence Type
Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 310°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:  /
Altimeter Setting: 30.04 inches Hg 
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C / 17°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Dickeyville, WI 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Dickeyville, WI
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:
Type of Airspace: Class G


Runway Surface Type:
Airport Elevation: 
Runway Surface Condition: Unknown
Runway Used:
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced landing

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: 42.625278,-90.587776 (est)

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