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NTSB Final Report: Arthur, IL

Location:

Arthur, Illinois

Accident Number:

CEN23LA341

Date & Time:

July 31, 2023, 14:00 Local

Registration:

N644ME

Aircraft:                                  ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY R44 II

Aircraft Damage:            Substantial

Defining Event:                      Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)                

Injuries:                                                1 Serious

Flight Conducted Under:       Part 137: Agricultural

Analysis

The pilot reported that he had confirmed that there were no powerlines to avoid before entering a field to perform spray operations. While spraying next to a tree line and approaching a road, the pilot could not recall whether there were powerlines or not. The pilot reported that while making a precautionary maneuver to avoid any potential powerlines, he had forgotten about the tree line. The helicopter struck a tree branch, and subsequently impacted terrain, which resulted in substantial damage to the fuselage, empennage, and main rotor blades. The pilot reported that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from trees during a low-level aerial application flight.

Findings

Environmental issues - Tree(s) - Effect on equipment

Environmental issues - Tree(s) - Awareness of condition

Personnel issues - Monitoring environment - Pilot


Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying              Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT) (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate:

Commercial

Age:

48,Male

Airplane Rating(s):

None

Seat Occupied:

Front

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

Helicopter

Restraint Used:

3-point

Instrument Rating(s):

Helicopter

Second Pilot Present:

No

Instructor Rating(s):

Helicopter

Toxicology Performed:

 

Medical Certification:

Class 2 With waivers/limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

March 10, 2023

Occupational Pilot:

Yes

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

April 15, 2023

Flight Time:

403 hours (Total, all aircraft), 96 hours (Total, this make and model), 328 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 72 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 52 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 7 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY

Registration:

N644ME

Model/Series:

R44 II

Aircraft Category:

Helicopter

Year of Manufacture:

2013

Amateur Built:

 

Airworthiness Certificate:

Normal

Serial Number:

13439

Landing Gear Type:

Skid

Seats:

4

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

May 18, 2023 Annual

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

2500 lbs

Time Since Last Inspection:

 

Engines:

1 Reciprocating

Airframe Total Time:

917.58 Hrs at time of accident

Engine Manufacturer:

Lycoming

ELT:

Not installed

Engine Model/Series:

IO-540-AE1A5

Registered Owner:

RAS AVIATION LLC

Rated Power:

245 Horsepower

Operator:

RAS AVIATION LLC

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

Agricultural aircraft (137)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual (VMC)

Condition of Light:

Day

Observation Facility, Elevation:

KMTO,710 ft msl

Distance from Accident Site:

15 Nautical Miles

Observation Time:

15:53 Local

Direction from Accident Site:

165°

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Clear

Visibility

10 miles

Lowest Ceiling:

None

Visibility (RVR):

 

Wind Speed/Gusts:

7 knots /

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

None / None

Wind Direction:

60°

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

N/A / N/A

Altimeter Setting:

30.13 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

28°C / 14°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

 

Departure Point:

Tuscola, IL

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

None

Destination:

Arthur, IL

Type of Clearance:

None

Departure Time:

08:54 Local

Type of Airspace:

Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 Serious

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Passenger Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Fire:

None

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

None

Total Injuries:

1 Serious

Latitude, Longitude:

39.7173,-88.35816(est)

Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Rutt, Brian

 

Additional Participating Persons:

Doyle Humphries; FAA - Springfield FSDO

 

Original Publish Date:

September 28, 2023                                                                                 Investigation Class:

4

Note:

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

 

Investigation Docket:

https://data.ntsb.gov/Docket?ProjectID=192767

 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), established in 1967, is an independent federal agency mandated by Congress through the Independent Safety Board Act of 1974 to investigate transportation accidents, determine the probable causes of the accidents, issue safety recommendations, study transportation safety issues, and evaluate the safety effectiveness of government agencies involved in transportation. The NTSB makes public its actions and decisions through accident reports, safety studies, special investigation reports, safety recommendations, and statistical reviews.

The Independent Safety Board Act, as codified at 49 U.S.C. Section 1154(b), precludes the admission into evidence or use of any part of an NTSB report related to an incident or accident in a civil action for damages resulting from a matter mentioned in the report. A factual report that may be admissible under 49 U.S.C. § 1154(b) is available here.

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Created 269 days ago
by Admin

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