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NTSB Final Report Released: Larchwood, IA


National Transportation Safety Board
Aviation Accident Final Report

 

 

Location:

Larchwood, IA

Accident Number:

CEN18LA025

Date & Time:

11/06/20171310 CST

Registration:

N7085M

Aircraft:

ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Defining Event:

Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT)

Injuries:

2 Serious

Flight Conducted Under:

Part 91: General Aviation - Aerial Observation

Analysis

 

The commercial pilot was conducting a helicopter flight to assist with herding cattle that had gotten loose. According to multiple witnesses on the ground, the helicopter impacted powerlines and then terrain. Video of the accident showed the helicopter facing away from the powerlines at the time of the collision with the powerlines.

A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation at the time of the accident. The witnesses on the ground indicated that there was unlimited visibility and no precipitation at the time of the accident. Thus, the pilot was likely focused on the cattle and lost situational awareness regarding the helicopter's proximity to the powerlines, which resulted in the collision with the powerlines and terrain.

 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
 

The pilot's loss of situational awareness, which resulted in his failure to maintain adequate clearance from powerlines.

 

Findings

Aircraft

Altitude - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues

Monitoring environment - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues

Wire - Awareness of condition (Cause)

Factual Information

 

On November 6, 2017, about 1310 central standard time, a Robinson Helicopter R44 helicopter, N7085M, was substantially damaged when it impacted powerlines and then terrain 4.5 miles south of Larchwood, Iowa. The commercial pilot and passenger sustained serious injuries. The aerial observation flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flight plan had been filed for the flight. The local flight departed about 1300.

According to the passenger and witnesses on the ground, the helicopter was assisting in locating and herding 300 cattle that were loose in the area. The helicopter was assisting the ground team to push the cattle towards an open gate directly beneath powerlines. Witnesses on the ground observed the helicopter hovering and as it started to turn, the "tail" of the helicopter hit the powerlines. The helicopter descended to the ground and came to rest on its right side in a corn field. Several witnesses and the passenger stated that the helicopter looked and sounded normal prior to the impact.

A video of the accident taken by another witness on the ground showed the helicopter maneuvering near the powerlines, with the nose of the helicopter facing away from the powerlines. The tail of the helicopter impacted the powerlines, followed by the main rotor blades. The helicopter rotated once before impacting the ground.

According to a FAA inspector who responded to the accident, the tailboom separated from the fuselage and both main rotors were substantially damaged. An examination of the helicopter, engine, and remaining systems revealed no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operations.

An official weather observation taken 18 miles northwest of the accident site reported the weather as wind 060° at 7 knots, visibility 1.5 miles in light snow, overcast skies at 2,300 ft above ground level, temperature -1° C, dewpoint temperature -4°C, and an altimeter of 30.26 inches of mercury. The witnesses on the ground at the accident site characterized the weather as overcast, windy, unlimited visibility, and no precipitation.

At the writing of this report, the pilot had no recollection of the accident or the events that led up to the accident.

 

 

History of Flight

Maneuvering-hover

Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT) (Defining event)

Maneuvering-low-alt flying

Low altitude operation/event

 

 

Pilot Information

Certificate:

Commercial

Age:

45, Male

Airplane Rating(s):

None

Seat Occupied:

Right

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

Helicopter

Restraint Used:

3-point

Instrument Rating(s):

None

Second Pilot Present:

No

Instructor Rating(s):

None

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

09/26/2017

Occupational Pilot:

Yes

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

04/15/2017

Flight Time:

(Estimated) 5200 hours (Total, all aircraft), 5000 hours (Total, this make and model)

 

 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

ROBINSON HELICOPTER

Registration:

N7085M

Model/Series:

R44

Aircraft Category:

Helicopter

Year of Manufacture:

1998

Amateur Built:

No

Airworthiness Certificate:

Normal

Serial Number:

0430

Landing Gear Type:

Skid;

Seats:

4

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

06/15/2017, 100 Hour

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

 

Time Since Last Inspection:

38.6 Hours

Engines:

1 Reciprocating

Airframe Total Time:

2042.8 Hours at time of accident

Engine Manufacturer:

LYCOMING

ELT:

 

Engine Model/Series:

O-540-F185

Registered Owner:

On file

Rated Power:

250 hp

Operator:

On file

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

None

 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Instrument Conditions

Condition of Light:

Day

Observation Facility, Elevation:

KFSD

Distance from Accident Site:

18 Nautical Miles

Observation Time:

1256 CST

Direction from Accident Site:

310°

Lowest Cloud Condition:

 

Visibility

1.5 Miles

Lowest Ceiling:

Overcast / 2300 ft agl

Visibility (RVR):

 

Wind Speed/Gusts:

7 knots /

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

/

Wind Direction:

60°

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

/

Altimeter Setting:

30.26 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

-1°C / -4°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

Light - Snow

Departure Point:

Larchwood, IA

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

None

Destination:

Larchwood, IA

Type of Clearance:

None

Departure Time:

1300 CST

Type of Airspace:

Class G

 

 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 Serious

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Passenger Injuries:

1 Serious

Aircraft Fire:

None

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

None

Total Injuries:

2 Serious

Latitude, Longitude:

43.382222, -96.439167

 


 


Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Jennifer Rodi

Adopted Date:

11/15/2018

Additional Participating Persons:

Mike Newhall; Federal Aviation Administration; Des Moines, IA

Publish Date:

11/15/2018

Investigation Docket:

http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms/search/dockList.cfm?mKey=96292

 

 





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