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NTSB Final Report: Santa Maria Island, FL


Location:

Santa Maria Island, FL

Accident Number:

GAA19CA124

Date & Time:

01/02/2019, 1120 EST

Registration:

N772MG

Aircraft:

Robinson R44

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Defining Event:

Loss of control in flight

Injuries:

1 Serious, 1 Minor, 1 None

Flight Conducted Under:

Part 91: General Aviation - Aerial Observation

Analysis 

The pilot reported that, while making a video of a boat, he flew the helicopter with the doors removed about 20 ft above the water and 3/4 mile offshore and saw seabirds ahead crossing right to left but he thought they would be not be a problem. Shortly after seeing the birds, he initiated a right turn to follow the boat, and while he was looking over his right shoulder, he felt an object, which he believed was a seabird, strike him in the back of the head. While dazed from the head strike, he flared to reduce speed, and the helicopter settled into the water. He then applied left lateral cyclic to stop the main rotor blade's rotation, and the helicopter rolled left and inverted in the water.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and main rotor blades.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions 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 loss of helicopter control while maneuvering at a low altitude after being struck in the head by a bird.
 

Findings

Aircraft

Performance/control parameters - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues

Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues

Animal(s)/bird(s) - Effect on operation (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying

Loss of control in flight (Defining event)

Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Post-impact

Roll over

 

 

Pilot Information

Certificate:

Flight Instructor; Commercial

Age:

67, Male

Airplane Rating(s):

None

Seat Occupied:

Front

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

Helicopter

Restraint Used:

 

Instrument Rating(s):

None

Second Pilot Present:

No

Instructor Rating(s):

Helicopter

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

12/03/2018

Occupational Pilot:

Yes

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

08/18/2018

Flight Time:

(Estimated) 1685 hours (Total, all aircraft), 340 hours (Total, this make and model), 1515 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 22 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft)

 

 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

Robinson

Registration:

N772MG

Model/Series:

R44 Undesignat

Aircraft Category:

Helicopter

Year of Manufacture:

2015

Amateur Built:

No

Airworthiness Certificate:

Normal

Serial Number:

2397

Landing Gear Type:

Skid;

Seats:

4

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

11/30/2018, 100 Hour

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

2400 lbs

Time Since Last Inspection:

 

Engines:

1 Reciprocating

Airframe Total Time:

228.52 Hours as of last inspection

Engine Manufacturer:

Lycoming

ELT:

C91 installed, not activated

Engine Model/Series:

O-540-F1B5

Registered Owner:

Sarasota Helicopter Services Llc

Rated Power:

235 hp

Operator:

Sarasota Helicopter Services Llc

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

None

 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual Conditions

Condition of Light:

Day

Observation Facility, Elevation:

KSRQ, 28 ft msl

Distance from Accident Site:

11 Nautical Miles

Observation Time:

1653 UTC

Direction from Accident Site:

118°

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Clear

Visibility

10 Miles

Lowest Ceiling:

None

Visibility (RVR):

 

Wind Speed/Gusts:

9 knots /

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

None / None

Wind Direction:

130°

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

N/A / N/A

Altimeter Setting:

30.15 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

27°C / 18°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

Departure Point:

Sarasota, FL (FA22)

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

None

Destination:

Sarasota, FL (SRQ)

Type of Clearance:

VFR

Departure Time:

1030 EST

Type of Airspace:

Class G

 

 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 Serious

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Passenger Injuries:

1 Minor, 1 None

Aircraft Fire:

None

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

None

Total Injuries:

1 Serious, 1 Minor, 1 None

Latitude, Longitude:

27.500000, -82.746667 (est)


Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Eleazar Nepomuceno

Report Date:

03/03/2020

Additional Participating Persons:

Andrew Murray; FAA; Tampa, FL

Publish Date:

03/03/2020

Note:

This accident report documents the factual circumstances of this accident as described to the NTSB.

Investigation Docket:

http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms/search/dockList.cfm?mKey=98861





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