Saturday, March 26, 2022

Robinson R44 Cadet, N514CD: Fatal accident occurred March 25, 2022 in Rowlett, Dallas County, Texas

Lora Krystyna Trout
~

Dr. Ty Wallis
~


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. 

Investigator In Charge (IIC): Lemishko, Alexander

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities:
Gavin Hill; Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Irvine, Texas
Robinson Helicopters; TorranceCalifornia
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania


Location: Rowlett, Texas
Accident Number: CEN22FA151
Date and Time: March 25, 2022, 11:27 Local 
Registration: N514CD
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional

On March 25, 2022, about 1127 central daylight time, a Robinson R44 helicopter was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Rowlett, Texas. The certified flight instructor (CFI) and student pilot sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 training flight.

According to the operator, the flight was the second of the day for the CFI and student pilot. The first flight (lesson 10 of the training syllabus) was completed successfully. The accident flight was lesson 11, which included pre-solo maneuvers, introduction/simulation of emergency procedures, equipment malfunctions, and vortex ring state recognition and recovery. The student pilot held a commercial pilot certificate for airplanes and was in training to add a helicopter rating.

Video provided to the National Transportation Safety Board showed the helicopter and it’s separated tail boom/tail rotor section fall from the sky. The video did not show the actual separation of the tail section. Automated Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) data showed the helicopter maneuvering about 2,000 ft. The data showed that the helicopter’s airspeed slowed significantly before a near vertical descent. There were no radio or distress calls heard from the helicopter.

The main section of the helicopter impacted a vacant lot adjacent to commercial buildings and a major municipal roadway. The wreckage was mostly consumed by a post-impact fire. The aft 4-ft section of the tail boom with the tail rotor assembly attached, impacted the top of a one-story commercial building about 300 ft from the main helicopter wreckage.

Main rotor blade impact marks adjacent to the separated section of the tail boom were consistent with main rotor blade contact of the tailboom in flight. Detailed examinations of the helicopter’s structure, flight controls, main/tail rotor drive systems, and engine did not reveal any pre-separation/impact mechanical anomalies.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: ROBINSON HELICOPTER
Registration: N514CD
Model/Series: R44 
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built:
Operator: 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KF46,575 ft msl 
Observation Time: 11:15 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C /-2°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots / , 230°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.16 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Garland, TX (T57)
Destination: Rockwall, TX (F46)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 32.907879,-96.582196

Rotorcraft crashed under unknown circumstances into an empty lot and caught on fire. 

Date: 25-MAR-22
Time: 16:30:00Z
Regis#: N514CD
Aircraft Make: ROBINSON
Aircraft Model: R44
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 2
Flight Crew: 1 fatal
Pax: 1 fatal
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: DESTROYED
Activity: INSTRUCTION
Flight Phase: MANEUVERING (MNV)
Operation: 91
City: ROWLETT
State: TEXAS

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email witness@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov. You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.

Lora Krystyna Trout

Dr. Ty Wallis
~


U.S. Forest Service-Bridger-Teton National Forest - 

We are grieving the sudden and tragic loss of one of our own. Lora Trout passed away in a helicopter crash this past Friday in a small suburb of Dallas, Texas. Lora worked on Teton Interagency Helitack from 2016 to 2021. Prior to that, she also worked as a wildland firefighter on the White River NF and Boise NF.  She left the helitack crew to pursue her dream of flying helicopters full-time, with the goal of returning to fire and SAR as a pilot. Lora was a dear friend, dedicated coworker, physical fitness leader, and an immediate positive influence to all she knew. Her charismatic wit and strength were evident in all she did, particularly in her passion for aviation and wildland firefighting. To those that knew her, she was a “go to” for advice, help, and humor.

The Bridger-Teton sends its condolences to the friends, family, and coworkers of Lora.  She will be greatly missed.


Equine Athlete Veterinary Services - 
 
It is with the heaviest of hearts we announce the untimely passing of our founding partner, Dr. Ty Wallis.

A natural born leader, Ty was so many things to so many people. A friend. Son. Equine Veterinarian. Surgeon. Mentor. Pilot. Philanthropist. Above all else, he was an amazing husband and father to the loves of his life, Kristen and Hattie. 

Equine Athlete Veterinary Services would not be what it is today without his ideas, talent and leadership. We are all better veterinarians and people because of his influence.

Thank you to everyone for the outpouring of love and support. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Wallis family during this extremely difficult time.



Lora Krystyna Trout
~

We’re learning more about a helicopter crash in Rowlett on Friday that killed a pilot under instruction and the flight instructor.

The family of 42-year-old Ty Wallis confirmed Sunday he was one of two people lost in a helicopter crash in Rowlett.

Wallis was flying as a pilot under instruction in a Robinson R44 Cadet helicopter when eyewitnesses saw the rotorcraft falling in several pieces Friday afternoon.

Investigators from the NTSB also confirmed the certified flight instructor was a female but did not release her name.

On Sunday, Chad Chance and Clayton Boyd took time to remember their friend who had wide-ranging interests and a passion for people.

“He was like Doogie Howser. He knew everything about everything,” Boyd said. “Ty’s the best at everything, that’s how I could sum it up.”

Wallis worked as an equine veterinarian in Pilot Point, specializing in orthopedic surgery for equine athletes, according to his company’s website.

On Sunday, the crash site was cleared of any remaining debris but it will likely be months before an exact cause is known.

Dallas-based aviation attorney Jon Kettles told NBC 5 the ability of investigators to preserve the tail boom - which separated before the crash - could be key in a final report.

“That will be very valuable to determine what caused that separation,” Kettles said.

Chance and Boyd said their focus is on supporting Wallis’ family, which includes his wife Kristen and their young daughter, and remembering their friend.

Specifically, Chance said his wife wanted the public to know that while she grieves an immeasurable loss she is comforted by her deep faith in confronting the loss of her life’s partner.

“Ty died doing something he truly loved and that was aviation," Chance said. ”She (Kristen) believes that Ty’s death was his time and God’s time. And his day was Friday."


Dr. Ty Wallis

Lora Krystyna Trout


ROWLETT, Texas - The National Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived Saturday at the site of a helicopter crash in Rowlett. The crash happened Friday and left two people dead. 

The helicopter dropped from the sky in several pieces. It could take months before investigators know exactly what happened.

Debris from the fiery and deadly helicopter crash is being looked at by federal investigators in the open field where it happened. The field is surrounded by businesses and heavily traveled roads in Rowlett.

A female flight instructor and a male student pilot who was under instruction to obtain a helicopter rating died in the crash, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Their names have not yet been released.

The NTSB, which leads the investigation, said its emphasis is to "find the mechanism which caused the tail to separate from the helicopter."

Video showed the tail rotor was separated from the body of the aircraft in midair. It was found about 100 yards from the main crash site.

Sammie Walker, who owns a business across the street, recalled seeing the crash.

"We heard a big woofing noise," he said. "When you saw it in the air, you thought it was going to land in the middle of the street."

Debris from the fiery crash is a reminder to those nearby of how tragedies can hit unexpectedly.

"So that’s the sadness of this whole deal, is what the family is going through at this moment," Walker added.

Rowlett City Councilman Blake Margolis said the city’s Community Emergency Response Team is providing resources to federal investigators. 

"That’s where they passed away," he said. "It’s tough to see. And to know that two people lost their lives."

Margolis was on scene 10 minutes following the crash, and said people nearby tried to help the victims, but it was too late.

The NTSB said its unaware of any radio distress calls from the helicopter prior to the crash. 

The helicopter is owned by Sky Helicopters in Garland. A company that also provides air resources to FOX 4. Sky Helicopters has not provided comment to FOX 4.

The helicopter is a Robinson R44 model, which has had safety concerns. Data collected by the Los Angeles Times showed there were 42 deadly crashes involving that model in the U.S. from 2006 to 2016. And in January, Robinson sent a service bulletin to R-44 owners calling on them to replace certain tail rotor blades, issued as spares, because some may crack. It’s unclear if this helicopter had those blades.

According to the NTSB, preliminary findings from the investigation do not appear to show an any similarities to those issues reported by the LA Times or the service bulletin sent out by Robinson at this time.

NTSB investigators will be onsite for several days, but the investigation could take months, or even up to two years.









ROWLETT, Texas —  Two people have died, including the pilot, after a helicopter crashed and caught fire in Rowlett on Friday morning, officials said. 

The crash happened near the 2200 block of Lakeview Parkway, near Dexham Road, in an open lot surrounded by businesses. Rowlett is just east of Garland in northeast Dallas County.

Initially, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the pilot was the only person onboard the aircraft. On Friday afternoon, Rowlett police tweeted that a second person was confirmed dead. The FAA later clarified that two people were on board the helicopter.

The FAA said the crash happened around 11:30 a.m. and involved a Robinson R44 Cadet helicopter. The FAA and the NTSB will investigate the crash, with the NTSB taking the lead.

In an update on Saturday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the two people killed were a student pilot and a flight instructor. The NTSB said the two were on a training flight. The pilot and passenger who died have not been identified at this time. Rowlett PD told WFAA Saturday both victims were at the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office for autopsy and identification.

The NTSB said Saturday that the investigation would take another day or two and would go back if the agency has any follow up examinations to do on the wreckage. NTSB officials said Saturday they were trying to collect all the pieces that could be on the rooftops. 

Sky Helicopters, a North Texas-based helicopter company that provides various services, confirmed it was their helicopter involved in the crash. WFAA contracts with Sky to provide aerial coverage of news events across North Texas. Our thoughts are with their organization.

Footage from the scene showed a badly damaged and burned helicopter. Responding crews had placed a tent around one side of the helicopter, which had crashed in an open field near surrounding businesses.

A witness, Joseph Kasper, told WFAA that he was working at a nearby mechanic shop when the helicopter crashed about 40 feet away.

Kasper said he saw the helicopter hovering, and then the tail rotor appeared to break in mid-air. The helicopter kept hovering, then went straight down and caught fire. 

Kasper and other witnesses tried to put out the fire but couldn't. Firefighters then arrived and put the fire out.

Another witness, Fabio Sanches Jelezoglo, said he also saw the tail come off of the helicopter.

"I saw the helicopter coming down," Jelezoglo told WFAA. "I heard a noise and when I looked up the helicopter was coming down and the tail was off."

A photo from the scene, shared with WFAA, showed the helicopter burning in the empty lot after it crashed.

The helicopter that crashed is a Robinson R44 and it has a dubious reputation. 

According to Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman, a law firm based in Los Angeles, there have been more than 1,600 accidents or incidents involving Robinson Helicopter aircraft, more than 425 of them fatal accidents resulting in more than 700 deaths worldwide.

An LA Times analysis of National Transportation Safety Board accident reports in 2018 found that "R44s were involved in 42 fatal crashes in the U.S. from 2006 to 2016, more than any other civilian helicopter." 

Per the LA Times, "that translates to 1.6 deadly accidents per 100,000 hours flown — a rate nearly 50% higher than any other of the dozen most common civilian models whose flight hours are tracked by the Federal Aviation Administration."

Robinson Helicopter Co., which is based in California, "disputed The Times’ analysis, contending that the FAA undercounts the flight hours for the R44, leading to an inflated accident rate. The company vigorously defended its record, maintaining that its aircraft are safe and reliable when flown within their operating limits." 

Attorneys Jon Kettles and Mike Lyons are based in Dallas and have represented several families involved in R44 crashes.

Kettles, a former military helicopter pilot of 8 years, told WFAA that the main rotor for the helicopter teeters back and forth and that the main rotor blade can flex down too far and hit the tail if a pilot doesn't know how to maneuver the rotorcraft. 

"There's a special FAA regulation for training to fly this model aircraft based on a long history of the stability of the aircraft in certain flight modes," Kettles said. "I don't think it's ever a good sign when there's a regulation specifically requiring more training in this model helicopter." 

Kettles added that if something goes wrong mid-air, a pilot must know what they're doing. 

"If you're at high altitude and at low airspeed--it's less stable. Your timing has to be perfect if something goes wrong in order to survive," Kettles said. 

Kettles believes the main rotor hit the tail of the aircraft after watching an eyewitness video of the helicopter falling from the sky. 

In the video--you see the tail rotor falling from the sky separate from the fuselage. The main rotor can then be seen hitting the cone of the tail. 

"This is the most likely scenario," Kettles said. "Radar data shows the aircraft doing a lot of maneuvers and getting very slow at several points." 

"The question now is what caused the main rotor blades to flex down that far?" 

Lyons said it's too early to determine if the crash was caused by pilot error or product failure. 

"The conditions that this horrible crash occurred in would tell me that it tends to gravitate more towards a product issue versus pilot error," Lyons said. 

"There were very favorable conditions Friday, Clear skies and no high winds." 

Lyons said the NTSB will ultimately determine what the issue was. 

"They will figure out precisely what happened--and I hope that they take swift action if it is, in fact, something related to the design or some type of product failure," Lyons said. 








82 comments:

  1. tail rotor separation.
    Leg: 1 @ 13:41:22 Z, Leg 5 @ 15:47:52 Z, last return @ 16:26 Z.

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    1. Track:

      https://globe.adsbexchange.com/?icao=a67081&lat=32.907&lon=-96.583&zoom=18.2&showTrace=2022-03-25&trackLabels&timestamp=1648225629

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  2. Seems a typical mast bumping situation. Robinsons are more succeptible due to the design of their main rotor.

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    1. How? Does does tailrotor separation equate to mast bumping?

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    2. It doesn't equate to mast bumping. It's just someone trying to sound knowledgeable. Robinsons aren't "more susceptible" to mast bumping than any other helicopter with a teetering rotor system.

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    3. And that's why you don't see too many modern teetering rotor systems.

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  3. There is a animated youtube video from 2009 that shows an R44 tailboom strike by the main rotorblade. Pretty close match to what is seen in the video and in the picture of the damaged tailrotor/boom section.

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    1. Robinson himself once said he was surprised his helis are used mainly for instruction, especially the R22, as nervous as a sports car compared to the rest. But sadly the economics make training in an R22 or R44 the only option for most schools.
      Volocopter shows the way to dronify a heli... but can't come soon enough.

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    2. This is what I think happened, the main rotor severed the tail boom. God bless the family of the victims, that video is horrible to watch.

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  4. Looking beyond armchair mast bumping commentary, pitch change link trouble caused the very similar 2014 N3234U inflight tail chop off accident:

    https://data.ntsb.gov/carol-repgen/api/Aviation/ReportMain/GenerateNewestReport/90447/pdf

    N3234U docket:
    https://data.ntsb.gov/Docket?ProjectID=90447

    Chopped off remnant photo from N3234U:
    http://aerossurance.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/r44-utah.jpg

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  5. I know they have had a lot of reliability issues with Lycoming engines recently. Enough that Australis's AHIA put out a report titled "Durability Issues Of Lycoming Engines...Fitted on Robinson Helicopters...". I have two friends with helicopter companies in TX. One has a R-44 with a little over 100 hours on it and had an power issue recently and over 1/2 the cylinders are trashed. He has flown these helicopters for over 20 years and is an Factory Trained Instructor and Mechanic. He says the quality is no longer there and they have 4 in their fleet right now and 3 are down for engine maintenance. He use to sing the praises of the Robinson Helicopters, he does not any more. My other friend has similar stories.

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    1. R22/R44 Fleet engine durability issues - The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), a government body that regulates aviation safety in Australia. update

      Date published: 24 December 2020
      https://www.casa.gov.au/r22r44-fleet-engine-durability-issues-casa-update
      'Lycoming has recently provided the results of the engine fuel testing, via Lycoming Service Letter No. L282 dated December 11, 2020. Lycoming Engine’s conclusion of this testing was
      “The results of the test showed negligible changes in engine operating characteristics between each fuel tested other than slight differences in exhaust gas temperature. There is no evidence that the differences in exhaust gas temperature exhibited during this test will have an impact on engine durability.”

      CASA is satisfied with the independent testing conducted by Lycoming Engines and oversighted by the FAA and does not intend at this time to pursue any further review of the Aviation fuels used by R22/R44 operators.

      CASA is in dialogue with the AHIA regarding establishing two working groups i.e. R22/R44 Operators and R22/R44 Maintainers at the beginning of 2021 to gather additional relevant data on the R22/R44 engine durability issue. CASA will continue to liaise with the relevant type certificate holders and State of Design National Aviation Authorities on this issue. CASA continues to be interested in obtaining additional information that will assist in making data driven assessments and decisions going forward.'

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    2. @MarcPilot: Cirrus are Continental powered, not Lycoming. Weight considerations of a hybrid setup impacting useful load, as well as complexities will impact any hybrid implementation for some time, but all electric is where all the R&D is going into now.

      Note on Robinsons: They do NOT carry product liability insurance. If you buy a new Robinson, they force you to carry insurance that covers them for the immediate period during and after delivery; which they conveniently sell through their own program called Pathfinder. Basically an additional tax on the buyer to protect Robinson.

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    3. Accident has absolutely NOTHING to do with the power plant.

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    4. I would not be so quick to say it has nothing to do with the powerplant...In fact, at this point I would say there are no absolutes except that it did crash and two people are dead. There has been a lot of issues with Robinson Helicopters and with Lycoming Engines. I can actually give a few hypotheticals whereby the engine failing (or a perceived failure because of faulty and/or malfunctioning cylinders) could contribute. But, I won't. I will just let the investigation take its course but I will say...There is a serious issue with Lycoming Engine Reliability in Robinsons. Maybe its the non-rotary intake valves, or maybe not.

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  6. Another Robinson accident and what does the FAA say?

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  7. People operating Robinsons every day will be more interested in the potential scenarios that can lead to chopping off the tail than reading flight simmer fandboi takes on battery powered flight and Boeing bashing.

    The tail chop off was either the result of a malfunction or maneuver-induced main rotor blade contact.

    The 2014 N3234U inflight tail chop off accident showed one causal relationship that can cause this horrific result. Persons with actual Robinson experience have the insight to comment on whether the N514CD flight track as represented in ADS-B suggests maneuver-induced main rotor blade boom contact as the initiating event.

    Commenting on KR regarding whether a chop off is easy to induce during normal straight line flight might save a life if those who fly Robinsons provide their insights instead of the comment thread filling up with poseur comments.

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    1. A 1996 NTSB special investigation examined in-flight events where the main rotor blade(s) contacted the tail boom or fuselage of the helicopter for 31 R22 events that had occurred since 1981 and 3 R44 events that occurred in 1994 & 1995.

      Notable in the individual case summaries is the recurring statement that the reason for the main rotor divergence that resulted in contact with the airframe was not determined.

      Lots of informative detail in the 116 page report. Reading Chapter 3 at report pages 10 thru 17 (pdf sheet 16 thru 23) provides a good sense of the 1996 investigation for those who won't read the entire document.

      http://libraryonline.erau.edu/online-full-text/ntsb/special-investigation-reports/SIR96-03.pdf

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    2. Special Federal Aviation Regulation 73 was issued in early 1995 to add R22/R44 specific training and experience requirements:

      https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-14/chapter-I/subchapter-D/part-61/appendix-Special%20Federal%20Aviation%20Regulation%20No.%2073

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    3. There is enough published info regarding mast bumping and its causes to not need a Robinson pilot's input. It's the result of a poor rotor assembly design that needed retiring a long time ago. No pilot's license or experience needed to come to that conclusion.

      And from what I've read and seen, it can happen to the best pilots out there.

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    4. According to data collected by the independent Aviation Safety Network, the R44 has been in 95 accidents internationally since January 2015, resulting in 58 fatalities. Twenty per cent of those accidents, (making up three-quarters of the fatalities), were recorded as arising from unknown circumstances.

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  8. Unfortunately this was a combination of a low time CFI (she had just earned her CFI certificate in Jan. 22 and a fixed wing pilot trying to transition to a helicopter. From what I have read, previous fixed wing pilots tend to want to go negative G during training. As we all know the Robinsons do not tolerate negative G maneuvers due to being susceptible to mast bumping. Rest in Peace my fellow pilots.

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    1. Very good point about the fixed-wing carry-over habits.

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    2. The winter 2021 Whirly Girls newsletter included the pilot's positive commentary regarding taking the Robinson R44 Safety Course that pilot Trout received as a scholarship from Whirly Girls. (See pdf sheet 8 of newsletter link below).

      https://whirlygirls.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/wg-cp-winter-2021a.pdf

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    3. "previous fixed wing pilots tend to want to go negative G during training"

      Is that because trying to fly a helicopter like a fixed wing results in pulling negative Gs? As a fixed wing pilot myself, most of us definitely try to avoid negative Gs in any aircraft whenever possible, so I can't imagine most fixed wing pilots would intentionally attempt negative G maneuvers in a helicopter.

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    4. I thought about that too. I don't know any rotor pilots or instructors, but I'd imagine it is much harder to teach a fixed wing pilot to fly a rotor craft than someone off the street with no aviation experience at all. The classic double duty of having to unlearn bad habits then learn something new. Like being a water skier your whole life then taking up snow skiing lessons.

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    5. How do you know she was a low time CFI...the FAA only lists the most recent issue date for certificates in the airman registry...Jan 2022 could have been a CFI renewal as she was working toward Comm/CFI back in 2019 so could very well have held a CFI since Jan 2020.

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    6. CFI renewal in January 2022 seems likely based on the March 2019 student of the month entry that describes being in CFI training at the time.

      https://maunaloahelicopters.edu/student-of-the-month-lora-krystyna-trout/

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    7. I am a fairly high time (6000+ hours instruction given) helicopter instructor. I have had fixed wing students respond to a simulated engine failure with forward cyclic. This is due to them equating it to a stall in an airplane. The correct response is aft cyclic and reducing collective to maintain rotor rpm. Forward cyclic will reduce rotor rpm due to less air flowing upward through the rotor disk. In a semi rigid rotor system (Robinson, Huey, Jet Ranger, etc.) it can also result in a negative G condition, leading to mast bumping, and possible loss of the rotor or rotor contact with the tail boom.


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    8. I wonder if this was a simulated power loss in fast forward fight ("FFF")?

      During low speed or hover -- common "OK, are you ready for it?" training conditions for autorotation -- a power loss is followed by dumping the collective. If you do that in FFF, you will quickly lose rotor RPM and pitch down -- even with a high-inertia rotor and ESPECIALLY in the featherweight-bladed Robinson. The reflex response of aft cyclic then becomes fatal.

      In FFF. aft cyclic should precede the collective reduction. Are we properly training this?

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    9. If if this was a simulated power loss in fast forward flight, you would hope an instructor would choose a practice location away from the kind of developed urban area they were operating over at the time.

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    10. As to the carry over habits, as a FW to RW pilot myself I can see how wishing to descend could lead to mast bumping. A FW pilot will tend to lower the nose first to descend, where as. A RW pilot would lower the collective. It could have been as simple as the student trying to avoid a bird strike and reverting to first instinct of pushing.

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  9. I have read several accident reports over the years that pointed to Robinson main rotor blades impacting tail rotors. I also noted that Robinson vehemently denied this was taking place. Still, paint from the tail was smudged on the main rotor blades of many of the aircraft. A Robinson pilot told me once there were things he could do to increase the chances of that happening in any Robinson. I wouldn't ride in one.

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    1. The Robinson pilot told you there were things he could do to increase the chances of main rotor blades impacting tail in any Robinson because SFAR 73 made it a requirement to be specifically trained about that after the investigation on this issue in 1995.

      Robinson does not deny that a pilot can induce the problem.

      https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-14/chapter-I/subchapter-D/part-61/appendix-Special%20Federal%20Aviation%20Regulation%20No.%2073

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    2. Perhaps, but Robinson was adamant that their hub and rotor design was not responsible for any of the crashes. I disagree. There are other causes such as pilot inputs and turbulent air at altitude that could be placed into the equation as contributing factors, but I think the design may be involved in just about all of them.

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  10. A reporter with USA Today trying to learn more about some recent Robinson Helicopter Company accidents and incidents.

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    1. Start by reading the background and previous regulatory action sections of the notice that extended SFAR 73 to "no expiration date" in 2009.

      FAA attributes a reduction in Robinson accidents involving mast bumping, low rotor RPM, or low “G” hazards to the issuance of SFAR 73.

      https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2009/05/29/E9-12532/robinson-r-22r-44-special-training-and-experience-requirements

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    2. You couldn't pay me enough to get in a R44. Anything that can't glide falls like a rock from the sky when something goes wrong.

      If you tell me that engine issues or mast bumping is more prevalent in a certain model...why would I get in that machine? Because its relatively cheap? Sorry, you saved me money but cost me my life? I don't think so.

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    3. The reporter with USA Today should investigate The Airline Academy in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is connected with Phoenix East Aviation. Airline Aviation Academy in Texas is another business that the news media should investigate.

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  11. Additional articles of interest:

    2022 British article with comment on low-G demos in New Zealand:
    https://helihub.com/2022/01/06/great-britain-celebrates-10-years-without-a-fatal-robinson-accident/

    From 2019, commentary by a R44 owner/pilot:
    https://airfactsjournal.com/2019/01/whats-wrong-with-robinson-r44-pilots/

    2016 article:
    https://verticalmag.com/features/undetermined-reasons/

    An easy read formatting of the 1995 investigation report:
    https://flightsafety.org/hs/hs_nov_dec97.pdf

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  12. It’s an R22 not a 44. The tail rotor comes off first the the aircraft spins and tumbles causing the main rotor to take off the tail cone.

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    1. this Texas accident helo was a 2016 ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44, N514CD owned by SKY HELICOPTERS INC.

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  13. Incorrect Mo. As gretnabear stated it was an R 44 (cadet) not an R 22.

    https://robinsonheli.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/sky_cadet.jpg (photo)
    https://registry.faa.gov/AircraftInquiry/Search/NNumberResult?nNumberTxt=514CD (Reg)

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  14. This looks like boom chop due to rotor blow back: https://robinsonheli.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/rhc_sn24.pdf

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  15. Position analysis of debris location relative to ADS-B data suggests that the helicopter was experiencing a sustained high descent rate well before the initial tail rotor chop off event, based on the following information:

    News video shows an aerial view of the severed tail rotor/fin/gearbox where it came to rest on top of a storage facility adjacent to the vacant lot (see two minute mark of the news4 video), but high negative vertical rates begin to show up in ADS-B data while the helicopter was approaching from down the street at the 16:27:01 Z datapoint location of 32.907, -96.583.

    https://www.fox4news.com/news/helicopter-crashes-burst-into-flames-in-rowlett

    Map pinned tail rotor/fin/gearbox as found/resting location:
    http://maps.google.com/maps?t=k&q=loc:32.907397+-96.582115

    Map pinned 16:27:01 Z datapoint location:
    http://maps.google.com/maps?t=k&q=loc:32.907+-96.583

    The severed tail rotor/fin/gearbox wouldn't have come down where it was found if it had been chopped off near the location transmitted in ADS-B data where the sustained high negative vertical rate began.

    ReplyDelete
  16. About 95% of the comments here are complete absolute laymen nonsense. There is nothing wrong with lycoming engines. There is nothing wrong with the PC links. There is nothing wrong with the tail rotor. There is a huge problem with the unorthodox design of the Robinson Helicopter rotor system. In the early 80's the FAA outright rushed this helicopter through certification, then back tracked with SFAR 73. SFAR 73 was a nice way of saying this helicopter is death trap so be really careful...The Robinson should have NEVER been certified normal category. NEVER. It's the most poorly designed certified helicopter in history, and it's deadly. It's horribly unforgiving and highly susceptible to "main rotor divergence" accidents because of the 3 hinged semi rigid hybrid cheap design. The FAA will never do anything about the Robinson, and Robinson long ago has designed major legal protections unto itself in selling it's aircraft. Instead of a redesign which would be impossible from an engineering perspective, they started publishing owner bulletins, revamping safety pubs, revamping flight manuals, all in attempt to mitigate the shortcomings of a crappy design.

    This recent accident was not a low G mast bumping accident, but instead caused by a rapid control input that the fuselage was not capable of following and therefore severing the tail boom. 2 extremely inexperienced pilots plus one poorly designed helicopter and the result is yet another fatal accident. This has happened countless times before and will happen countless more times in the Robinson.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That "fuselage was not capable of following" claim is among the simplest to evaluate by calculation across travel speeds and range of control inputs against a structural computer model or test article in a loading fixture.

      Fuselage not able to follow has never been proposed.

      Delete
    2. Calling the CFI extremely inexperienced is not accurate or fair. No details on her training records have been released but it is sufficient to say that a pilot who has amassed the hours required to get a commercial and instrument helicopter ticket and be signed off by a DPE as a rotorcraft CFI is not "extremely inexperienced."

      Furthermore, the R44 doesn't have full dual controls but rather an awkward teeter-totter yoke which doesn't make it easy for an instructor to quickly oppose and reverse a student's incorrect control inputs.

      Delete
    3. I think they assumed the fixed wing pilot (the older male doctor) was the CFI. I'm not sure the actual CFI (younger female) ever piloted fixed wing. Considering she flew firefighting missions for the US Forest Service, if I read correctly, I think it's safe to say she was quite experienced. To me it sounded like glaring safety risks in Robinson helicopters are not nearly as widely known as they should be. There was a report about a law firm that has represented the victims of many incidents with these aircraft, and I suspect the families of these victims will soon be represented by then.

      Delete
    4. RE: "To me it sounded like glaring safety risks in Robinson helicopters are not nearly as widely known as they should be."

      Not to be combative, but under SFAR 73, training for Robinson piloting must specifically address the flight characteristics and potential for mishap if not flown per POH instructions and performance limitations.

      It would be a gross failure for a CFI to allow any student to take control in that R44 if the student had not yet been made aware.

      Delete
    5. she had her cfi rating less than 60 days - she was not a firefighting pilot - she was a wildlands firefighter and hoped to some day be a firefighting pilot

      Delete
    6. I assure you that I am no "layman" and I can also assure you that there is something wrong with Lycoming Engines. I have thousands of hours in the 44. I am a gold seal CFI/CFII in helicopters. I am a Robinson Insurance Company Auditor. I also have an A&P license. I have been many times to both the factory maintenance and pilot/cfi school. I manage a helicopter company with many Robinson Helicopter's. There previously was nothing wrong with Lycoming Engines. We have 3 in our fleet right now with engine issues. One has 120 hours on it and it has 3 cylinders down. The past 3-5 years all our new helicopters are not making it any time before we are having engine malfunctions.

      Delete
    7. Some friendly advice - Being the manager with A&P skills makes you an authority figure in your organization, subject to getting tweaked by staff if perceptions after you give them input lead to resentment.

      Think about your staff and all pilots to figure out if there is anyone with an attitude of pushback, passive aggressive tendencies, or indifference who could be over-revving, over-leaning or not cooling down the Lyc's at all before shutdown.

      The Australia engine troubles were originally thought to be aromatics in fuels but while testing didn't verify fuel as a problem, it was noted that more engine trouble showed up in the northern parts of the country where op temps were higher.

      If what you are experiencing isn't heat related or a staff or rental pilot behaviour problem, lots of other Robby fleet managers you know should be having your unhappy Lyc troubles. Are they?

      And don't let the next one that has trouble be wrenched on by anyone until you verify yourself that the baffles and cooling path are proper. If someone else undresses the cooling configuration before you get to look, no telling if it was correct or not unless you yourself closed it up each time it went back into service before trouble cropped up.

      Hope you can solve the issues and get reliability back to normal.

      Delete
  17. EVERYTHING you'll ever need to know about the Robinson and EVERY reason not to fly one:

    http://www.rotorshop.com/sir9603.pdf

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SIR96-03.pdf and SFAR 73 as posted six days ago in earlier comments detail why Robinsons should be flown within established limits of performance. And people do. Every day.

      Delete
    2. Oh here we go some clueless Robinson defender soon to be statistic. That's how all you idiots end up. You can't say with a straight face that the Robinson is a safe design and product. Most of idiots think that just because you've survived it somehow justifies the crappy design and what you think is your own amazing piloting skills.

      Delete
    3. All aircraft have to be flown within their stated performance limits. Inexperienced Cirrus pilots caused a similar problem with their product line before training was improved.

      Using "clueless", "idiots", "crappy" and "amazing" in your comment provides a signal that emotional thinking is overcoming cognitive abilities. Nobody is asserting that low inertia rotor systems are inherently safe to an extent that poorly trained pilots can't induce this type of accident.

      Delete
  18. I thought the following was very relevant in this case. It seems pilots have to have specialist training on Robinson helicopters. That's saying you have to compensate for the Robinson's fatal shortcomings. Terrible record of fatalities.

    "There's a special FAA regulation for training to fly this model aircraft based on a long history of the stability of the aircraft in certain flight modes," Kettles said. "I don't think it's ever a good sign when there's a regulation specifically requiring more training in this model helicopter."

    ReplyDelete
  19. "I don't think it's ever a good sign when there's a regulation specifically requiring more training in this model helicopter."...

    ...for a chopper that is DESIGNED and MARKETED for initial training.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a misnomer, Robinson never intended the R44 and even much less the ultra nervous at the controls R22 to be trainers. Economics made it so. Would you pay 2k+ per hour for a turbine heli or a few hundreds per hour for an R22 or R44?
      Turbine training is mostly financed by Uncle Sam for a few select military chosen ones for that matter, unless someone is that wealthy to buy their own turbine heli.
      Sadly this also means the student pilot has the same experience as if a student driver had to learn to drive in an unforgiving and fast sports car.

      Delete
    2. Actually, Robinson did intend the R44 Cadet to be a trainer. The R22 was not intended to be a trainer, the R44 Cadet is a R44 with only two seats for the training role.

      Delete
    3. The R44 is not intended to be a trainer; just because there are 2 seat models doesn't mean it's a trainer machine; 2 seat R44's are used in Australia for mustering and spraying.

      Delete
  20. Not much detail in the preliminary report.

    https://data.ntsb.gov/carol-repgen/api/Aviation/ReportMain/GenerateNewestReport/104828/pdf

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its pretty evident she didn't have very much time in an R22 and chopped off the tailrotor, doesn't take an Einstein to figure this one out.

      Delete
  21. There is huge warning text on the cyclic. Which other vehicle have a warning like that on it's main control device?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many light aircraft have prohibited manoeuvre placards in plain view in the cockpit.

      Delete
  22. Im a 37 year FW PP with inst and multi ratings...Have an hour in an R22. Didnt didnt find the transition from push cyclic forward to go faster vs push stick forward to go down that much of an adjustment under normal circumstances, but it would be ingrained to push forward the moment an engine failure occurred. The closest heli school to me refuses to us the R22, but rather the Schweitzer 300C 3 blade rotor system with a conventional dual cyclic arrangement. They must know something.

    ReplyDelete
  23. No mention of vortex ring state which is the cause of the VA State Police heli crash were the tail rotor separated.

    ReplyDelete
  24. This was mentioned in the NTSB report as part of flight 11....vortex ring state can cause mast bumping...perhaps this was the cause. "and vortex ring state recognition and recovery" Seems the recovery was unsuccessful .

    ReplyDelete
  25. I was offered a job flying Robinsons when they first came out.

    I gave the aircraft a quick inspection and walked away.

    I could see 30 years ago that they are death traps.

    ReplyDelete
  26. To Anonymous above. That was a good move that probably saved your life! Robinsons IMO are death traps. These imitation toy helicopters should be banned, period. Do the research into their accident track record. FAA was in error certifying them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The FAA is a beaurocratic monster.

      Delete
    2. Incompetent pilots are the problem. Staying off the controls of any heli is the best course of action if you lack the skills or discipline to learn and understand the different control/response dynamics of that model.

      https://airfactsjournal.com/2019/01/whats-wrong-with-robinson-r44-pilots/

      Delete
  27. My condolences to everyone. Especially a likely very talented female flight instructor. Was the male student too “cocky”? Also, why is a camera (possibly a cellphone) recording and following so smoothly? Were the recorders made aware in advance? It sounds like a type of air cannon or gun was fired before separation of the helicopter. Look at the area where it crashed. Storage facilities nearby and flashy expensive vehicles parked in a driveway or lot. It’s Irving, Texas, not Irvine. There is an Irvine, California. Are police detectives or county sheriff investigators involved?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ^^ The only reference to Irvine, Tx that is found by ctrl-f searching the article and all comments before yours is in the header up top where the participating FSDO is mentioned:

      Additional Participating Entities:
      Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Irvine, Texas

      And that North Texas FSDO really is in Irvine, Tx:
      https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/field_offices/fsdo/ntx/contact/

      Are you really gonna put forward a gunshot with people ready to record conspiracy theory? The helicopter was in trouble before the cell phone video starts and the sound is rotor contact.

      Delete
  28. There is a very informative article on the R44 on KL from July 2017. In case anyone wants to learn more or refresh their memory it's at: http://www.kathrynsreport.com/2017/07/family-challenge-robinson-helicopter.html

    ReplyDelete
  29. So for anyone wanting R22 and R44 out of the sky... what's your damn alternative for something "affordable" besides what could be construed as such by a millionaire or billionaire? At less than < 1 million $$$ it's the only brand new heli that costs that little. Relatively speaking.
    And still countless safe hours for most who fly them and and aware of the limitations.
    I frankly dislike armchair moralizers that only criticize and want bans vs. doing something for an alternative and a solution, say like a reliable 2 seat electric air taxi or the like.

    ReplyDelete
  30. 269 series … THAT was a good trainer.

    ReplyDelete
  31. The UK's most experienced (at the time) Robinson instructor was killed in a Robinson performing a training manoeuvre with an experienced fixed-wing student pilot. In an engine failure (real or simulated) in a fixed-wing a/c, the nose of the a/c (when in the cruise or climb) must quickly be lowered to maintain glide speed. In a helicopter, the opposite is true. In a teetering-rotor helicopter or gyrocopter, abruptly pushing the stick forward will cause a roll, likely followed by either a mast bump or a main-rotor strike. This is why the Robinson flight manual warns about high-time f/w pilots. A Bell 206 was lost in the UK for the same reason.

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  32. Robinson's that are borne out of the same design should be grounded until this accident is figured out. There are too many absoultely qualified people commenting on this forum that know what they are doing and have the experience to tell everyone the God's awful truth. These sound like death traps. Get'em out of the sky until further testing is allowed.

    ReplyDelete
  33. She seems to be more interested in how sexy she looks posing next to the helicopter than being a CFI. Nothing worse than screaming all the way to impact, hopefully it was instant lights out.

    ReplyDelete