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NTSB Final Report: Eugene, Oregon

Location:

Eugene, Oregon

Accident Number:

WPR19LA205

Date & Time:

July 27, 2019, 22:15 Local

Registration:

N438RC

Aircraft:

Md Helicopter 369

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Defining Event:

Loss of tail rotor effectiveness

Injuries:

2 Serious

Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Other work use

Analysis

The pilots reported that they were approaching the airport ramp area for landing from the east with a wind of 10 knots from the north. About 25 to 30 feet above the ramp at an airspeed of about 25 knots, the left seat pilot reduced left pedal pressure to turn the helicopter toward the right into the wind, then subsequently increased left pedal pressure to stop the turn; however, the helicopter continued right and began to spin. The pilot lowered the collective, and the right seat pilot took the flight controls in an attempt to slow the spin. The helicopter impacted the ground hard, spreading the landing skids and resulting in the tail rotor contacting the ramp.

Postaccident examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The helicopter’s altitude above the ramp, its low forward speed, and the right turn were conducive to the onset of a loss of tail rotor effectiveness (LTE). Given the lack of mechanical anomalies, it is likely that the loss of control was due to LTE.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The left seat pilot’s failure to account for environmental conditions conducive to a loss of tail rotor effectiveness, which resulted in a loss of tail rotor effectiveness and subsequent loss of control.

Findings

Personnel issues

Aircraft

Aircraft control - Pilot

Prop/rotor parameters - Not attained/maintained

Factual Information

On July 27, 2019, about 2215 Pacific daylight time, a McDonnell Douglas 369E helicopter, N438RC, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Eugene, Oregon. The two commercial pilots were seriously injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 positioning flight.

The pilots reported that they were approaching the airport ramp area for landing from the east with a wind of 10 knots from the north. About 25 to 30 feet above the ramp at an airspeed of about 25 knots, the left seat pilot reduced left pedal pressure to turn the helicopter toward the right into the wind, then subsequently increased left pedal pressure to stop the turn; however, the helicopter continued right and began to spin. The pilot lowered the collective, and the right seat pilot took the flight controls in an attempt to slow the spin. The helicopter impacted the ground hard, spreading the landing skids and resulting in tail rotor contact with the ramp.

Postaccident examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The helicopter was mostly intact. Control continuity was established throughout the helicopter with no anomalies noted. Examination of the powertrain revealed a fracture of the main driveshaft flexible joint, and a fracture of the tail rotor driveshaft. All fracture features displayed signatures consistent with overstress.

Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular (AC) 90-95, Unanticipated Right Yaw in Helicopters, states, "Loss of tail rotor effectiveness (LTE) is a critical, low-speed aerodynamic flight characteristic which can result in an uncommanded rapid yaw rate which does not subside of its own accord and, if not corrected, can result in the loss of aircraft control."

In addition, the AC lists the conditions under which LTE may occur: "Any maneuver which requires the pilot to operate in a high-power, low airspeed environment with a left crosswind or tailwind…" and "There is greater susceptibility for LTE in right turns. This is especially true during flight at low airspeed since the pilot may not be able to stop the rotation."

History of Flight

Approach Approach - Loss of tail rotor effectiveness (Defining event) Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Landing - Hard landing

Pilot Information

Certificate:

Commercial

Age:

49,Male

Airplane Rating(s):

Single-engine land

Seat Occupied:

Left

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

Helicopter

Restraint Used:

3-point

Instrument Rating(s):

Airplane; Helicopter

Second Pilot Present:

Yes

Instructor Rating(s):

None

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

Class 2 With waivers/limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

April 10, 2019

Occupational Pilot:

Yes

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

April 26, 2019

Flight Time:

505 hours (Total, all aircraft), 14 hours (Total, this make and model), 398 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 14 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 7 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Co-pilot Information

Certificate:

Airline transport; Commercial; Flight instructor; Remote

Age:

74,Male

Airplane Rating(s):

Single-engine land; Single-engine sea; Multi-engine land

Seat Occupied:

Right

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

Helicopter

Restraint Used:

3-point

Instrument Rating(s):

Airplane; Helicopter

Second Pilot Present:

Yes

Instructor Rating(s):

Airplane multi-engine; Airplane single-engine; Helicopter; Instrument airplane; Instrument helicopter

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

Class 2 Unknown

Last FAA Medical Exam:

March 15, 2017

Occupational Pilot:

Yes

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

 

Flight Time:                        999999 hours (Total, all aircraft), 9999 hours (Total, this make and model)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

Md Helicopter

Registration:

N438RC

Model/Series:

369 E

Aircraft Category:

Helicopter

Year of Manufacture:

1987

Amateur Built:

 

Airworthiness Certificate:

Normal

Serial Number:

0245E

Landing Gear Type:

Skid

Seats:

5

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

February 12, 2019 Annual

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

2311 lbs

Time Since Last Inspection:

38 Hrs

Engines:

Turbo shaft

Airframe Total Time:

9497 Hrs as of last inspection

Engine Manufacturer:

Rolls Royce

ELT:

Installed

Engine Model/Series:

250-C20B

Registered Owner:

 

Rated Power:

420 Horsepower

Operator:

 

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual (VMC)

Condition of Light:

Night

Observation Facility, Elevation:

EUG,374 ft msl

Distance from Accident Site:

0 Nautical Miles

Observation Time:

21:54 Local

Direction from Accident Site:

 

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:

350°

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

N/A / N/A

Altimeter Setting:

30.17 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

21°C / 12°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

 

Departure Point:

Eugene, OR (EUG )

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

None

Destination:

Eugene, OR (EUG )

Type of Clearance:

VFR

Departure Time:

Type of Airspace:

 

Airport Information

Airport:

Mahlon Sweet Field Airport EUG

Runway Surface Type:

Asphalt

Airport Elevation:

374 ft msl

Runway Surface Condition:

Dry

Runway Used:

 

IFR Approach:

None

Runway Length/Width:

 

VFR Approach/Landing:

Unknown

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:

44.121387,-123.207221(est)

Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Link, Samantha

 

Additional Participating Persons:

Dee Rice; Federal Aviation Administration; Hillsboro, OR

 

Original Publish Date:

April 21, 2022                                                                   Investigation Class:

3

Note:

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

 

Investigation Docket:

https://data.ntsb.gov/Docket?ProjectID=99965

 

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