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NTSB Final Report Released: Orange Springs, FL


National Transportation Safety Board
Aviation Accident Final Report

 

 

Location:

Orange Springs, FL

Accident Number:

ERA17TA170

Date & Time:

05/02/20171815 EDT

Registration:

N911GE

Aircraft:

BELL 206

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Defining Event:

External load event (Rotorcraft)

Injuries:

1 Serious

Flight Conducted Under:

Public Aircraft

Analysis

 

The commercial helicopter pilot had completed 25 to 30 water drops in a fire zone using a firefighting bucket on suspension cables. After refueling, he completed three or four additional drops and then filled and pulled the bucket from the water and immediately felt "a severely out of CG [center of gravity] condition to the right." He assumed that the bucket cables were entangled in the right landing skid, so he released the water from the bucket. The condition persisted, so he rocked the helicopter to attempt to free the cable without success. He then released the cable with the cargo release button and heard the "clunk" sound typically heard when the bucket was released, but then he heard another "clunk." The helicopter then began to spin violently and crashed into the water.

Examination of the wreckage revealed 6-inch long cable marks on the right rear landing skid tube and a torsional fracture of the tail rotor short shaft. Based on the pilot's statement, the cable marks likely occurred initially when a cable became entangled on the skid tube, followed by the fracture of the tail rotor shaft due to cable or bucket contact with the tail rotor assembly. The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or anomalies with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation.

 

Probable Cause and Findings

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

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate clearance between the helicopter's skid and the firefighting bucket and suspension cable, which resulted in the cable becoming entangled on the landing skid and a subsequent loss of helicopter control.

 

Findings

Aircraft

Aircraft capability - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues

Monitoring equip/instruments - Pilot (Cause)

Factual Information

 

On May 2, 2017, about 1815 eastern daylight time, a Bell 206B helicopter, N911GE, sustained substantial damage during firefighting operations near Orange Springs, Florida. The helicopter was registered to and operated by the Marion County Sheriff's Office as a public-use aircraft. The commercial pilot sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that departed Ocala International Airport, Ocala, Florida, about 1500.

According to the Aviation Unit Commander and the pilot, the pilot was utilizing a firefighting bucket (Bambi Bucket®) and had completed between 25 and 30 drops on the fire zone. He landed at a nearby landing zone, refueled, and completed 3 or 4 additional drops when the accident occurred. After lowering the bucket into the water and filling it, he pulled the bucket from the water and immediately felt "a severely out of CG condition to the right." He assumed that the bucket cables were entangled in the right landing skid, so he released the water from the bucket. The condition persisted, so he rocked the helicopter to attempt to free the cable; however, this was not successful. He then released the cable with the cargo release button. He heard the "clunk" sound that was typical with releasing the bucket, then he heard another "clunk." The helicopter then began to spin violently and crashed into the water. The pilot freed himself from the cockpit, inflated his personal flotation device, and swam to shore. He utilized his cell phone to call for assistance and was rescued by first responders.

The pilot reported there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the helicopter.

An examination of the wreckage revealed cable marks on the right rear landing skid tube for about 6 inches in length. There was also a torsional fracture of the tail rotor short shaft.

 

 

History of Flight

Maneuvering-hover

External load event (Rotorcraft) (Defining event)

Loss of control in flight

Uncontrolled descent

Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

 

 

Pilot Information

Certificate:

Commercial

Age:

48, Male

Airplane Rating(s):

None

Seat Occupied:

Right

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

Helicopter

Restraint Used:

4-point

Instrument Rating(s):

Helicopter

Second Pilot Present:

No

Instructor Rating(s):

None

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

02/02/2017

Occupational Pilot:

Yes

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

02/02/2017

Flight Time:

3494 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1552 hours (Total, this make and model), 2510 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 46 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 17 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

 

 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

BELL

Registration:

N911GE

Model/Series:

206 B

Aircraft Category:

Helicopter

Year of Manufacture:

2001

Amateur Built:

No

Airworthiness Certificate:

Normal

Serial Number:

5271

Landing Gear Type:

High Skid;

Seats:

4

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

12/19/2016, 100 Hour

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

3201 lbs

Time Since Last Inspection:

76 Hours

Engines:

1 Turbo Shaft

Airframe Total Time:

8966 Hours

Engine Manufacturer:

Rolls-Royce

ELT:

C126 installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident

Engine Model/Series:

250-C20 SER

Registered Owner:

MARION COUNTY SHERIFF

Rated Power:

400 hp

Operator:

MARION COUNTY SHERIFF

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

Rotorcraft External Load (133)

 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual Conditions

Condition of Light:

Day

Observation Facility, Elevation:

OCF, 89 ft msl

Distance from Accident Site:

25 Nautical Miles

Observation Time:

1750 EDT

Direction from Accident Site:

225°

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Scattered / 8500 ft agl

Visibility

10 Miles

Lowest Ceiling:

None

Visibility (RVR):

 

Wind Speed/Gusts:

8 knots /

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

None

Wind Direction:

360°

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

N/A

Altimeter Setting:

29.96 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

31°C / 13°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

Departure Point:

Ocala, FL (OCF)

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

None

Destination:

Ocala, FL (OCF)

Type of Clearance:

None

Departure Time:

1500 EDT

Type of Airspace:

Class G

 

 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 Serious

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Passenger Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Fire:

None

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

None

Total Injuries:

1 Serious

Latitude, Longitude:

29.462778, -81.978056

 


 


Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Ralph E Hicks

Adopted Date:

11/15/2018

Additional Participating Persons:

John Breen; FAA FSDO; Orlando, FL

Publish Date:

11/15/2018

Note:

The NTSB did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Investigation Docket:

http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms/search/dockList.cfm?mKey=95097

 

 





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