Accident MD Helicopters MD 600N ZK-ILD, Thursday 14 June 2018
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Date:Thursday 14 June 2018
Time:08:50 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic MD60 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
MD Helicopters MD 600N
Owner/operator:Helicopters Hawkes Bay Ltd
Registration: ZK-ILD
MSN: RN058
Year of manufacture:2000
Total airframe hrs:973 hours
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 5
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:near Ngamatea Station, Whanganui 4 -   New Zealand
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Ngamatea Station, NI
Destination airport:Ngamatea Station, NI
Investigating agency: TAIC
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
The helicopter crashed undertaking an agricultural crop survey. All five occupants were injured, two seriously, and another died in hospital from the injuries sustained in the crash.

During the survey flight the helicopter’s electronic engine control unit detected and recorded a number of faults, resulting in the ‘full authority digital engine control’ system changing to ‘fuel flow fixed’ mode. The fuel flow fixed mode resulted in the rotor speed varying beyond normal operating parameters. The pilot was not able to control the varying rotor speed and a forced landing ensued.

The helicopter struck the ground hard and remained upright, while the engine continued to produce high power.

This, combined with an imbalance in the rotor system from the ground impact damage, resulted in a severe shaking of the airframe, which destroyed the helicopter.

One occupant seated in the front-left position received fatal injuries. The pilot and one other occupant received serious injuries; the remaining two occupants seated in the centre of the cabin received minor injuries.

4.1 An intermittent fault in the ‘full authority digital engine control’ (FADEC) system almost certainly resulted in a loss of automatic governing of the engine power. The source of this fault could not be determined.
4.2 The intermittent fault had occurred on previous occasions. It was likely that it had not been rectified due to its intermittent nature and the difficulty in performing fault diagnosis using the flashing light method.
4.3 The pilot did not switch the FADEC system to manual mode. It could not be determined whether the pilot was aware that the FADEC system had failed.
4.4 A forced landing was carried out without control of the engine power, and the helicopter landed heavily.
4.5 The occupants’ injuries were very likely the result of the engine continuing to run, after the heavy landing, at high power with a damaged rotor system.
4.6 The limited local training provided regarding the MD 600N FADEC system likely contributed to the pilot’s misunderstanding of aspects of the FADEC system and emergency procedures. The instructor used discretion when electing not to conduct a practice of switching to manual mode in flight.
4.7 There was no means for pilots to match throttle position and engine speed when transitioning to the FADEC system’s manual mode. This likely contributed to the pilot’s stated reluctance to select the FADEC system’s manual mode in flight.
4.8 Information regarding the training procedures of an in-flight ECU failure was not distributed outside the manufacturer’s own training organisation.
4.9 The pilot and occupants were not wearing helmets throughout the accident flight. The operator did not have a formal policy on the wearing of helmets.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: TAIC
Report number: AO-2018-005
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years and 11 months
Download report: Final report



Revision history:

14-Jun-2018 05:39 gerard57 Added
14-Jun-2018 11:29 Anon. Updated [Aircraft type, Source]
14-Jun-2018 11:31 harro Updated [Aircraft type]
15-Jun-2018 05:13 gerard57 Updated [Total fatalities, Narrative]
15-Jun-2018 05:30 Iceman 29 Updated [Embed code]
15-Jun-2018 20:25 Aerossurance Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
03-May-2020 06:48 JMW69 Updated [Registration, Cn, Operator, Source]
06-Aug-2020 20:39 Aerossurance Updated [Nature, Source, Narrative]
12-Aug-2020 07:43 Ron Averes Updated [Location]
21-Aug-2021 11:28 Aerossurance Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
21-Aug-2021 11:55 Aerossurance Updated [Source, Embed code]
09-Oct-2021 03:02 Ron Averes Updated [Location, Embed code]
15-Feb-2022 01:53 Ron Averes Updated [Location]
12-Nov-2023 20:37 harro Updated [Other fatalities, Narrative, Accident report]

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