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NTSB Final Report Released: Ireland, IN


National Transportation Safety Board
Aviation Accident Final Report

 

 

Location:

Ireland, IN

Accident Number:

CEN17LA267

Date & Time:

07/08/20171040 EDT

Registration:

N7224U

Aircraft:

ROBINSON HELICOPTER R44

Aircraft Damage:

Destroyed

Defining Event:

Loss of tail rotor effectiveness

Injuries:

1 Serious

Flight Conducted Under:

Part 137: Agricultural

Analysis

 

The commercial pilot was conducting an agricultural aerial application flight. The pilot reported that the helicopter made an uncommanded right yaw during a turn. The pilot stated that he applied full left pedal to counter the yaw and that the helicopter centered briefly, but then the right yaw started again, which continued as the helicopter descended and impacted the ground.

Because the helicopter was likely operating out of ground effect at a high power setting, the uncommanded right yaw was likely the result of a loss of tail rotor effectiveness (LTE). According to Federal Aviation Administration guidance, the procedures to recover from LTE are early detection followed by applying forward cyclic to regain airspeed, applying right (not left) pedal to maintain rotor rpm, and reducing collective to reduce the high power demand on the tail rotor. On the basis of the available information, the pilot lost control of the helicopter when he responded improperly to the LTE by adding left pedal rather than by applying forward cyclic and right pedal and reducing collective.

 

Probable Cause and Findings

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

The pilot's failure to apply the proper procedures to recover from a loss of tail rotor effectiveness, which resulted in a loss of control during an aerial application turn.

 

Findings

Aircraft

Prop/rotor parameters - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues

Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Incorrect action performance - Pilot (Cause)

Use of policy/procedure - Pilot (Cause)

Factual Information

 

On July 8, 2017, about 1040 eastern daylight time, a Robinson R44 helicopter, N7224U, impacted the ground following a loss of control while conducting an aerial application flight near Ireland, Indiana. Following the impact with the ground, a fire erupted and the helicopter was destroyed. The pilot received serious injuries. The aircraft was registered to and operated by JR Aviation , Inc., under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as an aerial application flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from an unknown location at an unknown time.

The pilot reported that he was spraying a field and when making a spray turn he felt a vibration or shuddering of the whole helicopter accompanied by an uncommanded right yaw. He applied full left pedal and the helicopter centered briefly, but then the right yaw started again and continued to impact. The pilot extricated himself and crawled about 20 ft from the wreckage when a fire erupted and consumed the helicopter. When asked if he felt the event was related to a mechanical or an aerodynamic event, he replied that he thought it was an aerodynamic event. He commented that he was a flight instructor and that he had never felt the kind of vibration that occurred during the accident flight.

Examination of the helicopter was limited due to the extensive fire damage, but no anomalies could be found with components that were able to be examined.

Federal Aviation Administration's Helicopter Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8083-21A, contains a section titled "Loss of Tail Rotor Effectiveness (LTE)" which states:

Loss of tail rotor effectiveness (LTE) or an unanticipated yaw is defined as an uncommanded, rapid yaw towards the advancing blade which does not subside of its own accord. It can result in the loss of the aircraft if left unchecked. It is very important for pilots to understand that LTE is caused by an aerodynamic interaction between the main rotor and tail rotor and not caused from a mechanical failure. Some helicopter types are more likely to encounter LTE due to the normal certification thrust produced by having a tail rotor that, although meeting certification standards, is not always able to produce the additional thrust demanded by the pilot.

FAA-H-8083-21A further stated that early detection followed by application of forward cyclic, right pedal, not left, and reducing collective to reduce the high power demand is the key to recovery.

The weather conditions reported at a nearby airport included variable wind at 4 kts.

 

 

History of Flight

Maneuvering

Loss of tail rotor effectiveness (Defining event)

Loss of control in flight

 

 

Pilot Information

Certificate:

Commercial

Age:

42, Male

Airplane Rating(s):

None

Seat Occupied:

Right

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

Helicopter

Restraint Used:

Unknown

Instrument Rating(s):

Helicopter

Second Pilot Present:

No

Instructor Rating(s):

Helicopter; Instrument Helicopter

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

01/24/2017

Occupational Pilot:

Yes

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

 

Flight Time:

1470 hours (Total, all aircraft), 932 hours (Total, this make and model)

 

 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

ROBINSON HELICOPTER

Registration:

N7224U

Model/Series:

R44 UNDESIGNAT

Aircraft Category:

Helicopter

Year of Manufacture:

2004

Amateur Built:

No

Airworthiness Certificate:

Normal

Serial Number:

1442

Landing Gear Type:

Skid;

Seats:

4

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

06/28/2017, Annual

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

 

Time Since Last Inspection:

 

Engines:

1 Reciprocating

Airframe Total Time:

2217 Hours at time of accident

Engine Manufacturer:

LYCOMING

ELT:

Not installed

Engine Model/Series:

O-540-F1B5

Registered Owner:

J R AVIATION INC

Rated Power:

225 hp

Operator:

J R AVIATION INC

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

Agricultural Aircraft (137)

Operator Does Business As:

 

Operator Designator Code:

JR9A

 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual Conditions

Condition of Light:

Day

Observation Facility, Elevation:

HNB, 529 ft msl

Distance from Accident Site:

10 Nautical Miles

Observation Time:

1456 UTC

Direction from Accident Site:

167°

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Clear

Visibility

10 Miles

Lowest Ceiling:

None

Visibility (RVR):

 

Wind Speed/Gusts:

Light and Variable /

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

/

Wind Direction:

Variable

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

/

Altimeter Setting:

30.02 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

26°C / 21°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

Departure Point:

Ireland, IN

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

None

Destination:

Ireland, IN

Type of Clearance:

None

Departure Time:

 EDT

Type of Airspace:

Class G

 

 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 Serious

Aircraft Damage:

Destroyed

Passenger Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Fire:

On-Ground

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

Unknown

Total Injuries:

1 Serious

Latitude, Longitude:

38.414722, -86.999444

 


 


Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

John M Brannen

Adopted Date:

12/19/2018

Additional Participating Persons:

Daniel Keen; FAA Indianapolis FSDO; Indianapolis, IN

Publish Date:

12/19/2018

Note:

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

Investigation Docket:

http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms/search/dockList.cfm?mKey=95562

 

 





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