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NTSB Final Report: TULLAHOMA, TN

Location:

TULLAHOMA, Tennessee

Accident Number:

ERA19TA110

Date & Time:

February 28, 2019, 15:00 Local

Registration:

N260MW

Aircraft:

Sikorsky HH-60L

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Defining Event:

Other weather encounter

Injuries:

2 Serious

Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Ferry

Analysis

The flight crew was on a visual flight rules (VFR) ferry flight to reposition the helicopter for maintenance and inspection. Prior to departure, they had expected VFR conditions along the entire route of flight. During an intermediate stop for fuel about 42 miles from the destination, they noted the weather conditions appeared to be clear, but they did not obtain an updated weather briefing. After departure, about 10 miles away from their destination, they encountered heavy rain, moderate turbulence, and deteriorating visibility (a nearby airport reported a visibility of 2.5 statute miles in mist and an overcast cloud ceiling at 300 feet). They descended to about 100 feet above ground level to maintain visual contact with the ground.

When VFR flight conditions “were no longer possible,” they performed a turn and attempted a precautionary landing in a field. During the landing, the helicopter struck trees and impacted terrain.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The flight crew’s improper decision to continue the VFR flight into deteriorating weather conditions, which resulted in a collision with trees during a subsequent precautionary landing attempt.

Findings

Personnel issues Environmental issues

Environmental issues

Decision making/judgment - Flight crew Low ceiling - Decision related to condition

Low visibility - Decision related to condition

Factual Information

On February 28, 2019, about 1500 central standard time, a Sikorsky HH-60L, N260MW, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Tullahoma, Tennessee. The two pilots received serious injuries. The helicopter was operated as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 repositioning flight.

The purpose of the flight was to reposition the helicopter for maintenance and inspection. The special airworthiness certificate and ferry flight permit were issued for the flight from Enterprise Municipal Airport (EDN), Enterprise, Alabama, to THA, which included a restriction for visual flight rules (VFR) operation.

According to the pilot-in-command, the crew departed EDN earlier that morning, destined for THA. It was a route they had “flown many times and were familiar with” and “VFR conditions were expected along the entire route of flight from point departure to destination.” They had stopped at Scottsboro Municipal Airport, Alabama (4A6), which was about 42 miles from the destination, for fuel and lunch. He recalled that the weather at that time appeared to be clear. He did not report receiving an updated weather briefing while at 4A6. They departed from 4A6 at 1400 with no issues. While enroute to THA, the pilot recalled that they had “encountered severe heavy rain, moderate turbulence, along with rapidly deteriorating visibility. We descended to approximately 100 ft AGL to maintain visual contact with the ground. When VFR flight conditions were no longer possible, we executed a turn and attempted to land the helicopter in an open field.” He said there were no problems or issues with the helicopter and did not recall any further details about the accident sequence.

A witness located about 1/2 nautical mile from the accident site was outside her home when she heard the sound of a helicopter nearby. She could not see the helicopter due to the clouds, and she noted that it was raining lightly at the time. She said the helicopter sounded “really loud and low, as if it were trying to land behind her house.” She heard the helicopter for about 30 seconds before hearing a loud “whump whump” sound followed by a loud boom.

Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that all major components of the helicopter were present at the accident site. The fuselage came to rest on its left side and nearly inverted, at the edge of a wooded area. The majority of the tailboom was in an adjacent tree about 30 ft above the ground. The main rotor blades were all separated from the hub, fragmented, and strewn across an area about 100 yards in diameter.

The 1455 weather conditions reported at the THA, located about 2.5 nautical miles northeast of the accident site at an elevation of 1,084 ft mean sea level (msl), included an overcast cloud ceiling at 300 ft above ground level (agl), visibility 2.5 statute miles in mist, temperature 13° C, dew point 12° C. The visibility had reduced to 1 mile at the next recorded observation at 1515. A review of the graphical aviation forecast issued by the National Weather Service at 1302 revealed that overcast skies were expected in the area around the time of the accident with cloud bases at 1,100 ft msl and tops at 9,000 ft msl. Two airmen’s meteorological information advisories were issued at 1200 and 1500, warning of instrument meteorological conditions expected in the area of the accident.

History of Flight

Enroute-cruise

Landing

Other weather encounter (Defining event)

Collision during takeoff/land

Pilot Information

Certificate:

Commercial; Flight instructor

Age:

70,Male

Airplane Rating(s):

Single-engine land

Seat Occupied:

Left

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

Helicopter

Restraint Used:

5-point

Instrument Rating(s):

Airplane; Helicopter

Second Pilot Present:

Yes

Instructor Rating(s):

Airplane single-engine; Helicopter; Instrument helicopter

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

Class 2 With waivers/limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

August 1, 2018

Occupational Pilot:

Yes

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

 

Flight Time:

6800 hours (Total, all aircraft), 2500 hours (Total, this make and model), 5506 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 13 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 11 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Co-pilot Information

Certificate:

Commercial

Age:

Male

Airplane Rating(s):

 

Seat Occupied:

Right

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

Helicopter

Restraint Used:

5-point

Instrument Rating(s):

Helicopter

Second Pilot Present:

Yes

Instructor Rating(s):

 

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

Class 2 With waivers/limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

March 13, 2018

Occupational Pilot:

Yes

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

 

Flight Time:

6800 hours (Total, all aircraft), 2500 hours (Total, this make and model), 3000 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 13 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

Sikorsky

Registration:

N260MW

Model/Series:

HH-60L

Aircraft Category:

Helicopter

Year of Manufacture:

1986

Amateur Built:

 

Airworthiness Certificate:

Restricted (Special); Special flight (Special)

Serial Number:

86-24560

Landing Gear Type:

Tailwheel

Seats:

 

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

February 25, 2019 Continuous airworthiness

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

23500 lbs

Time Since Last Inspection:

 

Engines:

2 Turbo shaft

Airframe Total Time:

3889 Hrs as of last inspection

Engine Manufacturer:

General Electric

ELT:

Not installed

Engine Model/Series:

GE-T700-701C

Registered Owner:

 

Rated Power:

1890 Horsepower

Operator:

 

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

None

Operator Does Business As:

Arista Aviation

Operator Designator Code:

 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Instrument (IMC)

Condition of Light:

Day

Observation Facility, Elevation:

THA,1083 ft msl

Distance from Accident Site:

3 Nautical Miles

Observation Time:

14:55 Local

Direction from Accident Site:

24°

Lowest Cloud Condition:

 

Visibility

2.5 miles

Lowest Ceiling:

Overcast / 300 ft AGL

Visibility (RVR):

 

Wind Speed/Gusts:

5 knots /

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

/

Wind Direction:

310°

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

/

Altimeter Setting:

29.93 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

13°C / 12°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

Moderate - None - Mist

 

 

Departure Point:

Scottsboro, AL (4A6 )

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

Company VFR

Destination:

Tullahoma, TN (THA )

Type of Clearance:

None

Departure Time:

14:00 Local

Type of Airspace:

 

Airport Information

Airport:

Tullahoma Rgnl Arpt/Wm Norther THA

Runway Surface Type:

 

Airport Elevation:

1084 ft msl

Runway Surface Condition:

 

Runway Used:

 

IFR Approach:

None

Runway Length/Width:

 

VFR Approach/Landing:

None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

2 Serious

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Passenger Injuries:

 

Aircraft Fire:

None

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

None

Total Injuries:

2 Serious

Latitude, Longitude:

35.345832,-86.270278(est)

Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Brazy, Douglass

 

Additional Participating Persons:

Bill Keeney; FAA/FSDO ; Nashville, TN

 

Original Publish Date:

March 23, 2022                                                                  Investigation Class:

3

Note:

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

 

Investigation Docket:

https://data.ntsb.gov/Docket?ProjectID=99037

 





Created 138 days ago
by Admin

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