Poor execution of autorotation landings, onto rough or too-soft terrain and into objects, accounted for a disproportionate number of injuries and deaths in helicopter accidents last year, according to safety analyst Robert E. Breiling Associates of Boca Raton, Fla. Powerplant, accessory, tail rotor shaft, bearing and gearbox malfunction led to a major portion of those accidents, according to a Breiling report.
Bell 206B JetRanger, Gentry, Ark., Feb. 21, 2005–An Air Evac Lifeteam JetRanger crashed shortly after takeoff while transporting a patient to a hospital in Springdale, Ark. The helicopter was substantially damaged, the patient was killed and the three crewmembers were seriously injured. The sky was clear and visibility was 10 miles.
Bell 206L LongRanger, Colville Lake, Canada, Oct. 5, 2006–A Canadian-registered LongRanger lost power on approach to a remote location and the pilot performed an autorotation. The LongRanger, which belonged to Great Slave Helicopters, was substantially damaged, and one passenger suffered minor injuries. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating.
Bell 407, Kalispell, Mont., Nov. 2, 2006–Departing Kalispell Regional Medical Center, the EMS helicopter lost power shortly after takeoff after the flight paramedic pointed out to the pilot an engine “chip light.” The pilot turned back to the hospital helipad but had to make an emergency autorotation landing when the engine quit. The three occupants were not injured, but the tailboom was damaged.
Bell 206-L1 LongRanger, Gentry, Ark., Feb. 21, 2005–The NTSB attributed the EMS accident to the pilot’s improper decision to maneuver in an environment conducive to a loss of tail-rotor effectiveness and his failure to properly execute an autorotation. The prevailing crosswind was a contributing factor.
Eurocopter is concerned that some pilots could confuse different versions of the AS 350B3 Ecureuil single-turbine helicopter that feature different kinds of engine control. In a mixed-fleet operation, a pilot could use an incorrect procedure after failure of the engine control. Older variants of the twist grip power control present greater risk of error, the manufacturer’s customer support department notes.
Bell 206L-1 LongRanger, Galliano, La., March 13, 2005–LongRanger N480RA was destroyed when it crashed into the Gulf of Mexico when departing an offshore oil rig platform. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was seriously injured.
Bell 206L-1 LongRanger, Galliano, La., March 13, 2005–Parked on a platform in the Gulf of Mexico for approximately 10 minutes with the main rotor rpm at ground idle, the commercial pilot had his head down making an entry on the flight manifest. He had a sensation that the helicopter was “rocking backwards” and grabbed both controls in an effort to “level” the helicopter. He lifted up on the collective and pushed forward on the cyclic.
Eurocopter AS 350B, Juneau, Alaska, July 25, 2005–The high-skid-equipped Squirrel was substantially damaged after a loss of engine power and subsequent emergency landing after taking off from the Juneau Airport. Temsco Helicopters of Juneau was operating the local VFR sightseeing flight to the Mendenhall Glacier. The commercial pilot and six passengers were not injured.
Flight-training-device builder Frasca International is demonstrating its TruFliteH 342 reconfigurable helicopter simulator with 220-degree visual display at Booth No. 3901. The TruFliteH 342, featuring the Olympus VisionPlex II projection system, is a generic helicopter flight-training device directed at the Schweizer 300, Bell 206 and Eurocopter EC 120 Koala class of aircraft.