Thankfully, the month of December was light in helicopter accidents. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is still in the process of investigating the accidents listed, so myself nor other readers can really judge the cause of each accident without further information. However, based upon the preliminary information, we can get an idea about what related subjects we should review to help prevent such accidents on our end.
I’ve titled each accident by the subject(s) I think we should review that are relevant to the accident in question.
December 2, 2016
Snow Landing/White-Out Conditions
Robinson R22: N7085K
Unalaska, AK – Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None
“On December 2, 2016, about 1200 Alaska standard time, a Robinson R-22 Beta helicopter, N7085K, collided with remote snow-covered terrain while landing, about 10 miles southwest of Unalaska, Alaska. The commercial pilot sustained no injury, the passenger sustained minor injuries, and the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was registered to, and operated by, Bering Pacific Ranches Ltd., Calgary, Alberta, Canada, as a visual flight rules (VFR) flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Deteriorating visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed.”
“[The pilot] stated that due to the deteriorating flight conditions, he conducted a precautionary landing to remote snow-covered terrain to wait for improved flight conditions. During the precautionary landing sequence, white out conditions were present from the main rotor system downwash, and the pilot was unable to recognize any topographical features. The main rotor blades impacted terrain and the helicopter rolled onto its left side.” Read the rest of the preliminary report (PDF, Accident Number ANC17LA011).
December 4, 2016
Unknown Damage In-Flight
Bell 0H58A: N916PD
Sacramento, CA – Injuries: 2 None
“On December 4, 2016, about 2100 Pacific standard time, a Bell OH-58A helicopter, N916PD, sustained substantial damage to the vertical stabilizer during a flight near Sacramento, California. The helicopter was registered and operated by the City of Sacramento as a public aircraft. The commercial pilot and observer, were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight…”
“The pilot and observer reported noticing the vertical stabilizer damage after the completion of a routine patrol flight, during the post-flight inspection. The vertical stabilizer was bent downwards, away from the tail rotor.” Read the rest of the preliminary report (PDF, Accident Number WPR17LA034).
December 10, 2016
Student Pilot Conducting Solo Practice Autorotation?
Hiller 0H23B: N5776
Tynan, TX – Injuries: 1 Serious
“On December 10, 2016, about 1100 central standard time, a Hiller OH-23B helicopter, N5776, impacted terrain during a practice autorotation near Tynan, Texas. The student pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained serious injuries, and the helicopter was destroyed due to a post- impact fire. The helicopter was registered to Tynan Flyers, LLC, Tynan, Texas, and operated by a private individual as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight.”
“According to the student pilot’s flight instructor who witnessed the accident, the student pilot appeared to be conducting a practice autorotation with a power recovery. The instructor reported the deceleration/flare was executed too low and the tail rotor struck the ground. The helicopter then spun 180 degrees and rolled over onto its left side.” Read the rest of the preliminary report (PDF, Accident Number CEN17LA055).
Visit the NTSB’s Aviation Accident Database & Synopses page to review decades of accident reports.
T his is the first of a series of monthly articles I’ll post listing and reviewing helicopter accidents as reported by the National Transportation Safety Board. Update 20170118: No longer will I do a monthly review of all helicopter accidents. Instead, I will be reviewing specific accidents with regards to their impact on our safe practices as professional helicopter pilots.