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NTSB Preliminary Report: Mechanicsburg, PA


 


Location:

Mechanicsburg, PA

Accident Number:

ERA20FA074

Date & Time:

01/09/2020, 2029 EST

Registration:

N450MC

Aircraft:

ROBINSON R66

Injuries:

2 Fatal

Flight Conducted Under:

Part 91: General Aviation - Personal



On January 9, 2020, about 2029 eastern standard time, a Robinson R66, N450MC, experienced an in-flight break-up near Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. The private pilot and one passenger were fatally injured and the helicopter was destroyed. The helicopter was operated under the provisions of title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the flight. The flight originated about 1958 from Martin State Airport (MTN), Baltimore, Maryland, and was destined for Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF), Buffalo, New York.

According to preliminary air traffic control radar information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, after takeoff the helicopter climbed to about 2,300 ft mean sea level (msl) and proceeded on a north-northwesterly track. The flight remained about that altitude and track between about 2002 and 2023, when the flight turned left toward the northwest, but remained at about the same altitude until 2028:53. About that time the helicopter began a descent, which continued until the last radar target at 2029:17, at an altitude of about 1,150 ft msl.

One witness who was outside about 1,000 ft east of the accident site reported hearing and seeing a low flying helicopter, which was "struggling to fly." She reported hearing a high-pitched noise as if the rotor was having difficulty turning. Suddenly she heard a loud "boom" with a flash of light. At that point the helicopter disappeared from her view.

Another witness who was inside his residence about 800 ft northeast of the accident site reported hearing a "thumping" sound which slowed. He then heard a loud bang which shook his house. He immediately went to his back door, then about 30 seconds later he received a text message from his neighbor alerting him of the helicopter accident. He also reported hearing a "percussion" sound before the sound of impact.

The helicopter was equipped with a Rolls-Royce Engine Monitoring Unit that was retained for downloading. Outlying wreckage consisting of a section of main rotor blade, tail rotor assembly, tailboom, main rotor mast, and other pieces of the helicopter were recovered and retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

ROBINSON

Registration:

N450MC

Model/Series:

R66 No Series

Aircraft Category:

Helicopter

Amateur Built:

No

 

 

Operator:

On file

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

None

 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual Conditions

Condition of Light:

Night

Observation Facility, Elevation:

CXY, 347 ft msl

Observation Time:

2030 EST

Distance from Accident Site:

8 Nautical Miles

Temperature/Dew Point:

-2°C / -10°C

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Clear

Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:

7 knots / , 110°

Lowest Ceiling:

None

Visibility

10 Miles

Altimeter Setting:

30.67 inches Hg

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

Unknown

Departure Point:

Baltimore, MD (MTN)

Destination:

Buffalo, NY (BUF)

 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 Fatal

Aircraft Damage:

Destroyed

Passenger Injuries:

1 Fatal

Aircraft Fire:

None

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

None

Total Injuries:

2 Fatal

Latitude, Longitude:

40.227778, -77.020278

 

Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Timothy W Monville

Additional Participating Persons:

William Gossley; FAA/FSDO; Harrisburg, PA

David A Gerlach; FAA AVP-100; Washington, DC

Thom Webster; Robinson Helicopter Company; Torrance, CA

Jack Johnson; Rolls-Royce Corporation; Indianapolis, IN

Note:

The NTSB traveled to the scene of this accident.





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