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NTSB Final Report Released: Loveland, CO



Location:

Loveland, CO

Accident Number:

CEN18LA087A

Date & Time:

01/26/20181140 MST

Registration:

N878BC

Aircraft:

ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY R44 II

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Defining Event:

Midair collision

Injuries:

1 Minor

Flight Conducted Under:

Part 91: General Aviation - Personal


Analysis

The accident occurred when a helicopter (N878BC) and an airplane (N777YF) collided midair while on approach to the airport. The helicopter pilot intended to fly a practice instrument approach to the runway, perform the missed approach procedure, and enter the published holding pattern. The airplane pilot intended to enter the traffic pattern, with appropriate spacing, for a full stop landing on the same runway. The airplane pilot had the helicopter in sight and was following the helicopter to the runway. While on final approach, the airplane pilot thought that the helicopter had entered a hover and asked the helicopter pilot about his intentions. The helicopter pilot indicated that he would be flying the missed approach procedure and then returning to the airport, but the airplane pilot incorrectly heard the helicopter pilot's response and believed that the helicopter was going to hover near the end of the runway and then proceed to the east. As a result, the airplane pilot expected the helicopter to be east of the airport, which was a common location for local helicopter training, when the airplane would be landing; however, the helicopter was on approach to the runway at that time. During the airplane's approach, the airplane pilot lost sight of the helicopter. The airplane continued to land and collided with the helicopter.

Probable Cause and Findings

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

The airplane pilot's failure to see and avoid the helicopter while in the traffic pattern, which resulted in a midair collision between the two aircraft. Contributing to the accident was the airplane pilot's misunderstanding of the helicopter pilot's intentions and the airplane pilot's expectation that the helicopter would be clear of the runway.


Findings

Personnel issues

Monitoring other aircraft - Pilot of other aircraft (Cause)

Expectation/assumption - Pilot of other aircraft (Factor)

Understanding/comprehension - Pilot of other aircraft (Factor)


Factual Information
On January 26, 2018, about 1140 mountain standard time, a Robinson R44 II helicopter, N878BC, and a Beech A36 airplane, N777YF, collided while on approach to the Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport (KFNL), Loveland, Colorado. The pilot in the helicopter sustained minor injuries and the pilot and passenger in the airplane were not injured. The helicopter was owned and operated by a private individual and the airplane was owned and operated by Landsgaard Equipment Leasing LLC. Visual metrological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The helicopter departed Century Helicopters Heliport (0CO7), Fort Collins, Colorado, at 1100, and the airplane departed the Greely-Weld County Airport (KGXY), at 1110. Both intended to land at KFNL.

According to the helicopter pilot, when he approached KFNL, he announced on the common traffic advisory frequency, his intention to fly the RNAV GPS approach for runway 33. There was a National Guard UH60 helicopter flying the ILS 33 procedure. The pilots of the Guard helicopter intended to fly the ILS 33 to a missed approach, and then depart the area. The helicopter pilot informed them of his intention to perform the RNAV GPS 33 approach, perform the published missed approach procedures, and then enter the published holding pattern. He then heard the airplane pilot ask the UH60 if they intended to fly all the way to the end of the runway before turning east. They replied that they would be close to the end during the missed approach. The helicopter pilot continued the approach and the airplane pilot called that he was on the downwind, had the helicopter in sight, and would extend the downwind to give spacing. The helicopter pilot replied that he would fly the missed approach procedure and then return to the airport. The helicopter pilot heard the airplane pilot reply, "good." While descending towards the airport, the airplane pilot asked the helicopter pilot if he was stopping there, which the helicopter pilot replied that was still descending, and then intended to fly the missed approach. The airplane pilot then stated that he was passing overheard. Shortly after, the helicopter and the airplane collided.

According to the airplane pilot, he approached KFNL from the east, and announced his initial position of 6-7 miles out. He heard other traffic conducting missed approaches and reported 2 miles and 1 mile out to coordinate with the local traffic. He announced crossing the field for the left downwind for runway 33 and proceeded into the pattern. While on the downwind leg for 33 and abeam the numbers he lowered the landing gear in preparation for landing. About that time the other pilot announced a straight in approach for 33, the airplane pilot saw that the aircraft was at a higher altitude, but he could see the aircraft was coming in on the approach approximately 4-5 miles out. On the radio, the airplane pilot offered to extend the downwind leg to allow the aircraft to complete its missed approach. On the base turn to final, the airplane pilot realized that the other aircraft was a helicopter and not an airplane. The helicopter continued its approach and when it was over the airport fence, the airplane turned onto final approach. About 4 miles south of the runway the airplane pilot said he could see the helicopter hovering south of the runway threshold, about ½ to ¾ mile from the end of the runway. He queried the helicopter pilot about his intentions, and he heard the helicopter pilot say that he was going to hover for a bit and then depart to the east. The airplane pilot replied "okay" and stated that he intended to fly over him for a full stop landing. The helicopter pilot responded "okay," so the airplane pilot proceeded to land on runway 33. During the approach, the airplane pilot lost sight of the helicopter. Expecting the helicopter to remain in a hover south of the runway, the airplane continued to land, descended, and collided with the helicopter. The helicopter descended, impacted terrain, and rolled on its right side resulting in substantial damage to the fuselage, and tailboom. After colliding with the helicopter, the airplane pilot saw the gear indicator show an unsafe right main landing gear. The airplane touched down on the left main landing gear and the pilot kept the right wing up for as long as possible. As the airplane slowed, the damaged right main touched down and the airplane departed the right side of the runway and came to rest in the adjacent grass.

The responding Federal Aviation Administration Inspector auditioned audio from the UNICOM frequency. He did not hear the helicopter pilot transmit that he intended to hover.

The airplane pilot stated that east of the runway 33/15 is where the local helicopter traffic usually performs their training, so he was expecting this helicopter to do the same.


 


Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Jason T Aguilera

Adopted Date:

02/05/2019

Additional Participating Persons:

Josh Pritchard; FAA FSDO; Denver, CO

Publish Date:

02/05/2019

Note:

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

Investigation Docket:

http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms/search/dockList.cfm?mKey=96677

 

History of Flight

Approach

Midair collision (Defining event)

 

 

Pilot Information

Certificate:

Commercial

Age:

51, Male

Airplane Rating(s):

Single-engine Land

Seat Occupied:

Right

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

Helicopter

Restraint Used:

3-point

Instrument Rating(s):

Airplane; Helicopter

Second Pilot Present:

No

Instructor Rating(s):

None

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

05/25/2017

Occupational Pilot:

No

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

12/16/2017

Flight Time:

2000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 800 hours (Total, this make and model), 2000 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 102 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 13 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

 

 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY

Registration:

N878BC

Model/Series:

R44 II II

Aircraft Category:

Helicopter

Year of Manufacture:

2006

Amateur Built:

No

Airworthiness Certificate:

Normal

Serial Number:

11530

Landing Gear Type:

Ski;

Seats:

 

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

09/29/2017, Annual

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

 

Time Since Last Inspection:

49 Hours

Engines:

1 Reciprocating

Airframe Total Time:

1479.8 Hours

Engine Manufacturer:

LYCOMING

ELT:

C91A installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident

Engine Model/Series:

IO-540-AE1A5

Registered Owner:

MOATS JESSE R

Rated Power:

245 hp

Operator:

On file

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

None

 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual Conditions

Condition of Light:

Day

Observation Facility, Elevation:

KFNL, 5015 ft msl

Distance from Accident Site:

0 Nautical Miles

Observation Time:

1156 MST

Direction from Accident Site:

246°

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Clear

Visibility

10 Miles

Lowest Ceiling:

None

Visibility (RVR):

 

Wind Speed/Gusts:

18 knots /

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

/

Wind Direction:

330°

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

/

Altimeter Setting:

30.01 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

4°C / -13°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

Departure Point:

FORT COLLINS, CO (0CO7)

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

None

Destination:

Longmont, CO (FNL)

Type of Clearance:

None

Departure Time:

1100 MST

Type of Airspace:

Class E

 

Airport Information

Airport:

NORTHERN COLORADO RGNL (FNL)

Runway Surface Type:

Asphalt

Airport Elevation:

5015 ft

Runway Surface Condition:

 

Runway Used:

33

IFR Approach:

Global Positioning System; Practice; RNAV

Runway Length/Width:

8500 ft / 100 ft

VFR Approach/Landing:

Go Around

 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 Minor

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Passenger Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Fire:

None

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

None

Total Injuries:

1 Minor

Latitude, Longitude:

40.440000, -105.007222 (est)

 





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