Monday, December 19, 2022

Robinson R44 Raven II, N999RL: Fatal accident occurred December 11, 2022 near Brannockstown, Co Kildare, Ireland

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; New York International Field Office

Rotorcraft crashed under unknown circumstances. 

Date: 11-DEC-22
Time: 14:50:00Z
Regis#: N999RL
Aircraft Make: ROBINSON
Aircraft Model: R44
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 1
Flight Crew: 1
Pax: 0
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Country: IRELAND

Officials investigating a fatal helicopter crash in Co Kildare on December 11 will focus on what role the weather may have played in the incident.

The Robinson R44 Raven II which was registered in the US, crashed into a field on farmland in Kennycourt, about 6km southeast of Kilcullen, just before 3pm. Locals witnessed the aircraft circling the area before crashing hard into the ground.

The pilot, a man from Dublin, was killed instantly. There were no other occupants.

The victim’s body was removed from the scene by hearse on Monday as investigators combed the field for debris.

The privately owned aircraft came apart when it hit the ground, spreading wreckage over a wide area.

In an update on Monday afternoon, the Air Accident Investigation Unit said it had “completed its on-site activities” at the scene of the crash and that it will continue to examine the wreckage in its purpose-built facility.

“The wreckage is being transported under escort to the AAIU wreckage examination facility at Gormanston Co Meath for further assessment. The AAIU will consider all the circumstances surrounding the flight and a preliminary report will be published within one month of the crash.”

The Garda said the victim’s body has been removed to Naas Mortuary for formal identification. The Garda said it is to prepare a file for the coroner.

A large covering hid the scene of the crash from public view on Monday but images showed a badly bent tail rotor.

Sources said the freezing conditions in place on Sunday will be one of the focuses of the investigation. Kildare recorded freezing temperatures on Sunday and areas of the county were affected by fog. A freezing fog warning from Met √Čireann was also in place for parts of the country.

The most common cause of helicopter crashes is pilot error but in rare circumstances freezing fog has been known to interfere with aircraft. Pilots sometimes also become disorientated in fog. The investigation will determine the airworthiness of the helicopter and what de-icing measures were taken before flight.

The four-seat, US made Robinson R44 is the best-selling helicopter in the world and is popular among police agencies, flying club members and business travelers. In 2015, New Zealand authorities grounded 80 of the country’s helicopters following a crash caused by a rotor blade which failed in fight. Two people were killed. Investigators later determined the rotor blade failed due to overloading.


  1. Why yes, one out of 20 of these will fall from the sky, sir, but look, they're cheap!! A great deal!!

  2. I would love to get the helicopter add on. Only helicopters used for training within 300 miles are Robinsons. Not going to do that.

  3. The crashes are almost always pilot error.

    1. So says Robinson, but there are far too many rotor divergence accidents to be that simplistic

  4. ah yes, let's all just jump on the Robinson misinformation wagon, because you know, it's so much easier to just regurgitate fear mongering misinformation than actually reading about why there are accidents (which by the way, are always pilot error... and yes, when a company sells an aircraft that once used to be too expensive for the average General Aviation enthusiast to buy, but is now within reach of many pockets, you're going to have a lot of low hour, minimally trained rookie helicopter pilots flying Robinsons who will undoubtedly raise the incident and accident statistics, but hey, lets blame the manufacturer! Robinson helicopters are no more incident prone than any semi-rigid 2-blade teetering design, same as the famous Bell Hueys and modern 206's. But yeah, let's just blame it on the manufacturer because Robinson sells more helicopters per year than Bell and not much less than Airbus, two manufacturers that sell mostly to commercial buyers, with usually much more experienced commercial pilots. Robinson is basically a huge boon to rotorcraft ownership in the General Aviation circles. But yeah, let's just ignore that this particular R44 in the article was flying in cold, fog conditions, probably the worst conditions a helicopter pilot should ever get caught in due to spatial disorientation issues.

    1. Yes, this is similar to the way people like to blame the Beechcraft Bonanza for killing pilots, when the fact is that the only flaw in the Bonanza is that over-confident, inexperienced pilots get in them and fly into conditions they can't handle.

    2. Let's all jump on the Pilot Error bandwagon then.....

  5. I hope this was not one of the 44's equipped with the "junk" -40 engine. I don't know how they are still flying...