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NTSB Preliminary Report: Carthage, IL


Carthage, IL

Accident Number:


Date & Time:

August 6, 2023, 01:06 Local




Bell 206


3 None

Flight Conducted Under:    Part 135: Air taxi & commuter - Non-scheduled - Air Medical (Medical emergency)

On August 6, 2023, about 0106 central daylight time, a Bell 206 L-3 helicopter, N288AE, sustained substantial damage when it was involved in an accident near Carthage, Illinois. The pilot, the flight nurse, and the flight medic sustained no injury. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 helicopter air ambulance flight.

The aircrew (consisting of the pilot in the front right seat, the flight nurse in the rear left seat, and the flight medic in the rear right seat), were dispatched to pick up a patient from a remote area. The pilot completed the flight risk assessment and accepted the flight. The helicopter departed from the Air Evac Lifeteam 59 heliport at the Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center, Fort Madison, Iowa, at 0051. While enroute, the aircrew received the landing zone (LZ) coordinates and established contact with a local fire department that was managing the LZ. The aircrew received a LZ brief that included information that the intended LZ was an east to west running gravel road with no wires, a barbed wire fence was located on the south side of the road, and corn fields were on the north and south sides of the road. The LZ consisted of visual meteorological conditions at night.

Upon approach to the LZ, the pilot and the flight nurse transitioned to and utilized night vision goggles (NVGs). The flight medic was unaided by NVGs. The helicopter approached the LZ from the northwest and performed a high reconnaissance about 700 ft agl in a left-hand orbit, confirming the LZ brief received from the fire department. The helicopter approached the LZ from north to south, perpendicular to the road. During the descent, a low reconnaissance was performed, and the aircrew verified that there were no poles or wires present and visual contact was established with the fire department.

The pilot maneuvered the helicopter to a 10 ft hover over the road, the aircrew identified the barbed-wire fence on the south side of the road and noted that there were ditches on both sides of the road. The pilot initiated a right pedal turn and he planned to land so the cabin door was oriented toward the accident scene. This intended landing position would also provide visual contact with the fire department personnel entering and departing under the main rotor system and to aid in patient loading. The heading of the helicopter was 310° when the pilot initiated the descent toward the road. As the helicopter touched down, the pilot heard a “pop” noise and he felt feedback in the tail rotor pedals. The pilot realized the tail rotor system impacted the barbed-wire fence, he lowered the collective immediately, and performed an emergency shutdown. The helicopter came to rest upright on a final heading of about 360° perpendicular to the road, and not the intended landing direction. The three aircrew members were able to egress from the helicopter without further incident.

The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the vertical stabilizer and the tail rotor blades. The helicopter was equipped with a Rolls-Royce 250-C30 series turboshaft engine.

The pilot was utilizing a MSA Gallet LH250 flight helmet equipped with AN/AVS-9 (F4949 series) NVGs. The flight nurse was utilizing a Gentex Alpha Eagle flight helmet equipped with AN/AVS-9 (F4949 series) NVGs. The flight medic was utilizing a Gentex SPH-5 flight helmet.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:





206 L3

Aircraft Category:


Amateur Built:



Operating Certificate(s) Held:

On-demand air taxi (135)

Operator Designator Code:




Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:


Condition of Light:


Observation Facility, Elevation:

KEOK,671 ft msl

Observation Time:

00:55 Local

Distance from Accident Site:

14 Nautical Miles

Temperature/Dew Point:

19°C /19°C

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Few / 4500 ft AGL

Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:

/ ,

Lowest Ceiling:



8 miles

Altimeter Setting:

29.93 inches Hg

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

Company VFR

Departure Point:

Fort Madison, IA


Carthage, IL

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

3 None

Aircraft Damage:


Passenger Injuries:


Aircraft Fire:


Ground Injuries:


Aircraft Explosion:


Total Injuries:

3 None

Latitude, Longitude:

40.416281,-91.136261 (est)

Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Hodges, Michael

Additional Participating Persons:

Alex Taylor; FAA FSDO; Springfield, IL

Helen Tsai (Accredited Representative); Transportation Safety Board of Canada; Gatineau, OF

Gary Howe (Technical Advisor); Bell Flight; Fort Worth, TX


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

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Created 110 days ago
by Admin

Categories Press Releases