Accident Eurocopter EC 130B4 N55GJ, Monday 3 August 2020
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Date:Monday 3 August 2020
Type:Silhouette image of generic EC30 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Eurocopter EC 130B4
Registration: N55GJ
MSN: 3745
Year of manufacture:2003
Total airframe hrs:2012 hours
Engine model:Turbomeca Arriel 2B1
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:Knoxville, TN -   United States of America
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:Knoxville-McGhee Tyson Airport, TN (TYS/KTYS)
Destination airport:Private landing site, Knoxville, TN
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
On August 3, 2020, at 1941 eastern daylight time, a Eurocopter EC130-B4 helicopter, N55GJ, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident in Knoxville, Tennessee. One passenger was fatally injured, and the pilot and two additional passengers were not injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The helicopter pilot was returning to his property located adjacent to a river. As the helicopter descended toward the water at a 25° angle with low forward airspeed, the pilot applied power to arrest the descent. However, the helicopter continued to descend until it impacted the river short of the intended landing area. The pilot and two passengers survived the impact and a third passenger drowned.

The investigation revealed no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have prevented the normal operation of the helicopter. Recovered flight data indicated the engine was producing power at the time of impact. Weather reports and statements from the pilot and witnesses indicated that the helicopter descended steeply with little forward airspeed and a tailwind of about 5 knots, which is a flight profile conducive to vortex ring state. The pilot’s reported lack of collective authority when increasing power to arrest the helicopter’s descent is also consistent with the helicopter entering vortex ring state. A pilot's failure to monitor altitude, airspeed, and rate of descent during an approach can result in a flight profile conducive to vortex ring state.

Probable Cause: The pilot's entry into vortex ring state and his inability to arrest the helicopter's descent while maneuvering for landing.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: ERA20LA273
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 10 months
Download report: Final report


NTSB (photo0



Photo: NTSB (after recovery)


Revision history:

04-Aug-2020 01:55 Geno Added
04-Aug-2020 02:01 Geno Updated [Source]
04-Aug-2020 06:02 gerard57 Updated [Total fatalities, Source, Damage, Narrative]
04-Aug-2020 06:12 Aerossurance Updated [Aircraft type, Location, Phase, Nature, Narrative]
04-Aug-2020 06:18 Aerossurance Updated [Time, Narrative]
04-Aug-2020 06:43 HeliHub Updated [Registration, Cn, Source]
04-Aug-2020 06:51 harro Updated [Aircraft type, Phase, Nature, Source]
04-Aug-2020 10:14 Aerossurance Updated [Aircraft type, Source]
04-Aug-2020 10:14 Aerossurance Updated [Location]
04-Aug-2020 13:49 Geno Updated [Operator, Source]
04-Aug-2020 21:31 Aerossurance Updated [Source]
26-Aug-2020 08:58 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Operator, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]
24-Jun-2022 15:50 Aerossurance Updated [Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source]
29-Jun-2022 12:14 Captain Adam Updated [Location, Destination airport, Source, Narrative, Category, Accident report, Photo]
02-Jul-2022 13:52 Aerossurance Updated [Time, Location, Destination airport, Source, Embed code, Damage]
02-Jul-2022 14:07 Aerossurance Updated [Embed code]
10-May-2023 13:05 Captain Adam Updated

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