Mid-air collision Accident Eurocopter EC 135P2+ D-HDRV, Tuesday 23 January 2018
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Date:Tuesday 23 January 2018
Time:13:00 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic EC35 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Eurocopter EC 135P2+
Owner/operator:DRF Luftrettung
Registration: D-HDRV
MSN: 0808
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:2
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:near Philippsburg, Baden-Wurttemberg -   Germany
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport (FKB/EDSB)
Destination airport:Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport (FKB/EDSB)
Investigating agency: BFU
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
A DRF Luftrettung Eurocopter EC 135P2+ helicopter (D-HDRV) and Piper PA-28RT-201T Turbo Arrow IV (HB-PGF) both impacted the ground following a mid-air collision near Philippsburg, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. Both occupants on board each aircraft suffered fatal injuries.
The helicopter departed from Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport at 12:04 local time. They flew to the Speyer Airfield to carry out aerodrome circuits and emergency procedure training as part of the training for obtaining the type rating for this type of helicopter.
The first landing at Speyer took place at 12:29. Immediately afterwards, further aerodrome circuits were flown with landings on runway 16. According to the flight director, the helicopter took off again at 12:56 and left the circuit in a southeasterly direction. There, in slow forward flight, it waited for a Cessna 172 that had taken off at about 13:06, and then approached Runway 34 for training purposes, contrary to the landing direction of Runway 16.
The Piper PA-28RT operated on a training flight and took off at about 12:05 from Basel Mulhouse Freiburg Airport, France. In the filed flight plan, Schwäbisch Hall was indicated as the destination aerodrome. At the responsible air traffic control, the flight destination was changed to Mannheim City by the crew via radio at about 12:32 hrs. A further change of the destination airfield took place during the overflight of the Karlsruhe VOR/DME (KRH), now Speyer was indicated as destination. At 13:02:49, the crew logged off at Langen Information and changed to the radio frequency of Speyer.
The air traffic controller at Speyer stated that he informed the crew of the current landing direction of runway 16 and of further traffic in the aerodrome circuit. He also stated that he subsequently informed the crew of the helicopter that an aircraft would be landing at Speyer shortly.
The air traffic controller informed the PA-28RT crew that a helicopter was hovering, and the PA-28RT crew reported "traffic not in sight".
Radar records indicate that the PA-28RT was in a constant descent coming from about 3000 ft AMSL, at about 130 kt, in the direction of flight toward the downwind leg for runway 16. The helicopter was simultaneously flying at a nearly constant altitude, with a ground speed between 50 and 70 kt, while turning right back toward runway 34.
The helicopter began this right turn at 13:07:01. At this time, the airplane and the helicopter were still about 3.2 km apart.
At 13:07:12, about halfway through the helicopter's right turn, the aircraft was still about 2 km away. At 13:07:23, when the helicopter completed the right turn to fly in a straight line toward Runway 34, the aircraft was still about 1.2 km away.
Several witnesses had observed the conspicuously slow-moving helicopter from the ground when they suddenly noticed the powered aircraft descending toward the helicopter.
Despite an evasive movement of the aircraft to the left observed by witnesses, a collision with the helicopter occurred at about 13:07:41. Witnesses stated that they saw a fireball in the sky and aircraft parts falling to the ground.
The right wing of the Piper PA-28RT made contact with the helicopter's main rotor blades. The right wing was severed, tore off in midair, and the aircraft crashed to the ground. The helicopter's tail boom was severed in the collision. The helicopter caught fire and crashed to the ground. The occupants of both aircraft were fatally injured. Both aircraft were destroyed.

The collision between the helicopter and the airplane occurred because the helicopter crew did not see the airplane on approach and the airplane crew recognized the helicopter too late and their initiated evasive maneuver failed.
A chain of unfortunate events, circumstances and constraints led to the approach and ultimately the collision:
- The planned approach of the helicopter against the active runway direction, due to the emergency procedure being trained.
- The approach of the aircraft into an area difficult or impossible to see from the helicopter's cockpit.
- The position of the helicopter below the horizon, in an area difficult or not visible from the cockpit of the aircraft.
- An increased workload in both cockpits and associated distraction from airspace observation due to training.
- The distraction of both crews by and orientation of the airspace observation in the direction of any traffic departing at the same time in the immediate vicinity.
- A collision warning device in the helicopter that, when configured, detected only traffic with FLARM emissions.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: BFU
Report number: 
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report


German Television SWR, Landesschau Baden-Württemberg, 24.01.18, 19:44


Revision history:

23-Jan-2018 16:14 Geno Added
23-Jan-2018 17:24 Anon. Updated [Aircraft type, Source]
23-Jan-2018 17:34 harro Updated [Aircraft type]
23-Jan-2018 17:34 harro Updated [Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Source, Narrative]
23-Jan-2018 17:35 Copi Updated [Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
23-Jan-2018 20:13 Floroy Updated [Registration, Source]
23-Jan-2018 20:25 flyflyfly Updated [Time, Cn, Narrative]
24-Jan-2018 06:59 jmiles Updated [Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
24-Jan-2018 08:39 Anon. Updated [Departure airport, Destination airport]
24-Jan-2018 09:26 oldi Updated [Narrative]
24-Jan-2018 09:33 harro Updated [Aircraft type, Departure airport, Destination airport, Narrative]
24-Jan-2018 12:06 Aerossurance Updated [Source, Narrative]
24-Jan-2018 19:23 Iceman 29 Updated [Embed code]
24-Jan-2018 19:30 jmiles Updated [Source, Narrative]
19-Dec-2021 18:22 harro Updated [Phase, Narrative, Accident report]
18-Jun-2022 11:47 Aerossurance Updated [Source]
18-Jun-2022 12:05 Aerossurance Updated [Embed code]

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