Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Hughes 369HS, N420AT: Accident occurred September 17, 2021 in Ash, Brunswick County, North Carolina

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; Greensboro, North Carolina

Location: Ash, North Carolina
Accident Number: ERA21LA368
Date and Time: September 17, 2021, 10:30 Local 
Registration: N420AT
Aircraft: Hughes 369
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural

On September 17, 2021, at 1030 eastern daylight time, a Hughes 369HS helicopter, N420AT, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident in Ash, North Carolina. The pilot was not injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 aerial application flight.

According to the pilot, he flew from his home base to the remote job site and landed on his flatbed support truck to load the chemical hopper. The helicopter had about 25 gallons of fuel on board when it arrived at the truck. After landing, the pilot reduced the throttle to flight idle while the ground crew loaded 60 gallons of chemical to the hoppers. Prior to liftoff, the pilot increased the throttle until the engine and rotor rpm needles were in the green range of the tachometer. He believed that the throttle was in the flight detent. As he started to lift the helicopter from the truck, he noticed one of the truck’s doors was open, so he delayed liftoff until the ground crew could close the truck door. Subsequently, immediately after liftoff from the truck, the pilot heard the low-rotor rpm warning horn, and the helicopter began to descend. He attempted to pull more pitch; however, the helicopter did not respond.

The helicopter descended, impacted a field, and rolled over on to its right side. The pilot shut down the engine after the helicopter came to rest.

Examination of the helicopter by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the helicopter sustained substantial damage to the tail boom. The tail boom was fractured just forward of the horizontal stabilizer. The flight controls were continuous from the cockpit controls to the main and tail rotor. All main rotor blades were fragmented and fracture separated near their roots.

The helicopter was retained for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Hughes 
Registration: N420AT
Model/Series: 369 HS
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural aircraft (137)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: CPC,98 ft msl
Observation Time: 12:35 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 16 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C /22°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2400 ft AGL
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 20°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 3300 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.13 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Ash, NC
Destination: Ash, NC

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: 34.06136,-78.520028 (est)

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