Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Loss of Engine Power (Total): Robinson R44 Raven II, N744RB; accident occurred August 20, 2021 in New Roads, Louisiana

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; Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Bates Show Sales Staff Inc

Location: New Roads, Louisiana 
Accident Number: CEN21LA385
Date and Time: August 20, 2021, 03:40 Local 
Registration: N744RB
Aircraft Damage: Unknown
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (total) 
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The pilot was conducting a night cross country flight in his single-engine helicopter to evaluate the progress of some construction projects. As he approached the landing area, he noticed some loose construction debris, so he flew past the site and turned around to approach from the opposite direction.

Shortly thereafter, the engine began losing power. Unable to maintain level flight he conducted an emergency landing to a river. By the time he was rescued, about 11 hours after the accident, the helicopter had sunk and was not located despite an extensive search by local law enforcement. Given that the wreckage was not recovered, an examination of the engine to determine a reason for the loss of
power could not be performed.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
A loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined due to a lack of available evidence.


Aircraft (general) - Unknown/Not determined

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying Loss of engine power (total) (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private 
Age: 62, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Unknown
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter 
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None 
Second Pilot Present:
Instructor Rating(s): None 
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: BasicMed
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: (Estimated)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N744RB
Model/Series: R44 II
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built:
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 14390
Landing Gear Type: Skid
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 1
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer:
Engine Model/Series:
Registered Owner:
Rated Power:
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KHZR, 40 ft msl 
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 04:15 Local 
Direction from Accident Site: 266°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:  /
Wind Direction: 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:  /
Altimeter Setting: 29.97 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / 24°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Lafayette, LA (KLFT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 03:40 Local
Type of Airspace:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Unknown
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 30.72554,-91.353989(est)

West Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office - 

West Feliciana Sheriff’s Deputies responded late Friday to reports of a person floating in the Mississippi River near the mouth of Bayou Sara.  According to Sheriff Brian Spillman, when the responding deputies got to the scene, they saw a man clinging to a propane bottle approximately 50 feet off the bank.  Recognizing the man was in extreme distress, WFPSO Crisis Response Team members launched a rescue vessel and attempted to reach him, while other deputies waded out into the water.  

After bringing him to shore, the man told deputies he had left Lafayette in a Robinson R44 helicopter before 4:00am and went down in the river about 45 minutes later.  He was transported to a Baton Rouge hospital suffering from exposure and a possible diabetic condition.

“He is extremely lucky to have survived the crash, and that he went down in an area that is near a public access point to the river’” said Spillman.  “He was in the water over 12 hours.  I don’t think he could have lasted much longer.”  

The man told deputies he was alone in the rotorcraft.  His name is being withheld pending notification of family members.

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