Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Robinson R44 Raven II, N212HT: Accident occurred September 28, 2021 at Miami Executive Airport (KTMB), Miami-Dade County, Florida

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; Miramar, Florida

Airman Helicopter Inc

Location: Miami, Florida
Accident Number: ERA21LA387
Date and Time: September 28, 2021, 19:00 Local
Registration: N212HT
Injuries: 1 Minor, 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On September 28, 2021, at 1900 eastern daylight time, a Robinson R44 II helicopter, N212HT, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident after an uncontrolled takeoff from Miami Executive Airport (TMB) in Miami, Florida. The private pilot sustained minor injuries while his 3 passengers were not injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot provided a detailed statement and was interviewed by telephone. He said a colleague wanted to take two of his friends for a helicopter ride and the pilot agreed. The pilot rented the helicopter from an individual at Palm Beach County Park Airport (LNA), flew to TMB, picked up the 3 passengers, flew around the Miami area, and returned to TMB where he landed the helicopter to deplane the passengers.

According to the pilot, he “brought the collective [control] down, everyone was cheering, and I began the shutoff procedure.” He said he first “travelled the throttle to idle and slide my hand to apply the [collective] friction.” The pilot said his recollection of events from this point were “blurry” as the helicopter began “spinning” and eventually “we hit the ground on the helicopter’s left side.”

In a written statement, the passenger stated that once on the ground the pilot “was reducing the engine and preparing for shutdown [when] suddenly we started spinning.” He said the pilot attempted to regain control but the “spinning was very powerful” before the helicopter “elevated a bit” and then crashed. He said the entire event lasted “a few seconds” and thought perhaps “some kind of mechanical issue was happening.”

A flight instructor and his student witnessed the event from the ground. The instructor said his student “suddenly became nervous” and at the same moment he heard “the helicopter increase the engine revolutions in an unusual way.” He said he ran outside in time to see the helicopter rotating around the mast “out of control” before it descended to ground contact. 

The student stated that he observed the passenger as he removed his shoulder harnesses and headset when the helicopter “made a strong turn to the left,” rotated “uncontrollably” around the main rotor mast, “took off without control” before “plummeting” to the ground.

Examination of surveillance video revealed the helicopter descended slowly to touchdown. The camera provided a front quartering view towards the pilot’s [right] side of the cockpit. The “coning” of the rotor system reduced to a flat rotor disc after touchdown, and the passenger in the helicopter’s left front seat was observed to remove his shoulder harnesses and his headset. The passenger moved the headset to his front when the helicopter began a rapid yaw to its left and rotated around the main rotor mast. After one full revolution, the helicopter lifted rapidly from the ground, and climbed immediately out of the camera’s view as it continued to rotate rapidly around the main rotor mast.

Seconds later, the helicopter descended back into view in an uncontrolled descent. The main rotor disc was observed severing the tailboom in two places ahead of the tail section, which included the tailrotor and tailrotor gearbox, prior to ground contact.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for rotorcraft helicopter, which was issued based on his pilot certificate issued by The State of Israel. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second class medical certificate was issued March 10, 2021. The pilot declared 220 total hours of flight experience on that date. Examination of his logbook by and FAA aviation safety inspector revealed an estimated 178 total hours of flight experience logged, with an estimated 77 total hours of experience in the accident helicopter make and model. Those hours were accrued over a 10-year span, with two flights logged in 2021. One flight was logged May 1, 2021, in a Robinson R44 helicopter, and the other was logged in Israel on July 3, 2021 in a Robinson R22 helicopter. The July flight was annotated as a “checkride.”

The examination revealed that the pilot had not obtained endorsements to act as pilot-in-command in either the Robinson R22 or the Robinson R44 helicopters as required by FAA Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 73 2 (B) 1 and (B)2, which was an annual requirement at his experience level.

The 1051 recorded weather observation at TMB included wind from 090° at 7 knots. The temperature was 26°C and the dewpoint was 19°C.

The helicopter was examined at the site by FAA aviation safety inspectors, and all major components were accounted for at the scene. The helicopter rested on its left side, with the cockpit and cabin area largely intact. The copilot’s windscreen was fractured and separated. Control continuity was confirmed from the flight controls to the main rotor head, and out to the tailrotor through the severed sections of the tailboom.

During the telephone interview, the pilot was reminded of what he wrote in his written statement, and he said he didn’t remember anything in addition to what he had written. He had no recollection of his front seat passenger removing his seatbelts or headset, and only remembered what he was told after the accident. The pilot was asked if his left hand was guarding the collective control, or if he was perhaps using his left hand to shut off radios or some other task, and he said he couldn’t remember where his left hand was placed when the helicopter started to rotate around the mast.

The pilot was asked if his watch or clothing could have interfered with the collective control, and he said no.

When asked about the performance and handling of the helicopter, the pilot said, “Everything went well. Just like the many other times that I’ve flown it.”

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N212HT
Model/Series: R44 II
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand air taxi (135)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site: 
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C /19°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots / , 90°
Lowest Ceiling: 
Altimeter Setting: 29.95 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 3 None 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor, 3 None
Latitude, Longitude: 25.647564,-80.433225 (est)

Miami (CBS Miami) – The FAA is investigating a helicopter crash at Miami Executive Airport in Southwest Miami-Dade.

According to the FAA, the Robinson R44 helicopter struck a fence with its rotor while landing shortly after 7pm on Tuesday night.

The helicopter then rolled onto its side. As a result, a couple of nearby vehicles were damaged.

Four people were aboard. Only one person sustained minor injuries.

Anthony Valle works at the hanger and had helped the pilot take off.

“Two of the passengers were tourists and had come to Miami and one of the friends said, ‘Oh let me show you around Miami in a helicopter,’” he explained.

Thirty minutes after takeoff, the chopper was back.

Valle took video of the scene minutes after the crash to document the experience which he said was like nothing he’s ever seen before.

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“To see them take off and land and I see them like that. That’s the next time I saw them, I’m freaked out.”

Valle said he spoke with pilot before he landed by phone. The pilot had never been to the terminal in the past and inquired where he should land to pick up his passengers. Valle told him spot 1 or spot 2.

He didn’t end up in either.

“Inches. It came inches from the fuel truck. Everyone, I mean everyone would have died,” said Valle. “I heard the pilot say as the helicopter landed someone shifted around or something like that then the helicopter starts spinning around and losing control and is now it’s there.”

The impact was so great, pieces of the chopper were tossed around like toys. One large chunk landed in a field about 30 yards away. A section of the tail, tail fin and rotor were also nearby.

The horrifying helicopter ride was summed up in a few words.

“Oh my God you have no idea. Incredibly, incredibly lucky,” said Valle.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Florida – No one was injured Tuesday night when a private training helicopter struck a fence near a parking lot at Miami Executive Airport, a spokesman from the Miami-Dade Aviation Department confirmed.

Communications Director Greg Chin said there was damage, however, to the helicopter and a few parked vehicles.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews and police responded to the scene at 12800 SW 145th Ave. after the incident.

According to a spokesman from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Robinson R44 helicopter’s rotor struck the fence while landing around 7 p.m. Tuesday.

He said four people were on board -- two men and two women.

Two of the people on board the helicopter were from out of town and had just taken a tour of Miami with their friend.

“It sounded like gunshots or someone’s engine ripping very loud,” said line technician Anthony Valle, who had sent the group off. “I freaked out because I was the one that saw them take off. I helped them with everything.”

Valle said the helicopter had already touched ground, and then something went wrong soon after.

He said the chopper lost control and smashed into the fence.

The incident happened just feet away from a fuel truck and another small plane.

“Inches -- it came inches from the fuel truck,” Valle said. “I mean, everyone would have died.”

It’s unclear what caused the pilot to strike the fence, but the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating, with the NTSB taking the lead in the investigation.

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