Accident Eurocopter AS 350B3 Ecureuil ZK-ITD, Thursday 16 September 2021
ASN logo
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Date:Thursday 16 September 2021
Time:c. 06:30
Type:Silhouette image of generic AS50 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Eurocopter AS 350B3 Ecureuil
Owner/operator:Lister Helicopters
Registration: ZK-ITD
MSN: 7815
Year of manufacture:2014
Total airframe hrs:3136 hours
Engine model:Safran Arriel 2D
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:near Lake Mahinerangi, Otago -   New Zealand
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Milton
Destination airport:Alexandra
Investigating agency: TAIC
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
An AS350 B3e helicopter, ZK-ITD, was being flown from the operator’s base in Milton to a client’s cherry orchard near Alexandra to conduct frost protection operations.

The flight departed approximately one hour before the beginning of morning civil twilight (when the centre of the rising sun’s disc is 6 degrees below the horizon). It proceeded normally until just before reaching the township of Lawrence.

The helicopter conducted a series of turns immediately before, and after, reaching the township of Lawrence. Soon after passing Lawrence, while over the Lammerlaw Range, the helicopter made a descending right-hand turn through nearly 160 degrees before entering a left-hand spiral dive that ended in a near vertical nose-down impact with the ground.
The helicopter was destroyed on impact and the pilot (the sole occupant) did not survive.

The helicopter had departed the operator’s base one hour after the moon had set and one hour before the beginning of morning civil twilight. It was close to the darkest part of the night.

The pilot almost certainly encountered cloud in the vicinity of Lawrence and was very likely attempting to manoeuvre around it. With increasing cloud cover and little or no terrestrial light in the Lammerlaw Range area it was very likely that the pilot lost their clearly defined horizon soon after passing Lawrence.

The helicopter continued to climb straight ahead for nearly three minutes before the pilot very likely became disorientated. The pilot’s disorientation very likely resulted in a high angle of bank turn, followed by the rapid descent of the helicopter, which was consistent with spatial disorientation and loss of control of the helicopter.

The pilot had met the currency requirements for their restricted night rating. However, it had been about nine years since the pilot had last logged instrument flying practice. It was very unlikely that the pilot was proficient in flight with sole reference to aircraft instruments at the time of the accident.

Two safety issues were identified:
The rules and guidance information for night Visual Flight Rules (VFR) are ambiguous. This could lead to night VFR pilots flying longer distances than permitted at night and encountering night flying conditions outside their capabilities.

The current rules for and guidance on instrument currency for night VFR do not adequately mitigate the risks of inadvertent flight into conditions where the clearly defined horizon is lost.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: TAIC
Report number: AO-2021-003
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years and 2 months
Download report: Final report



Revision history:

15-Sep-2021 21:26 Captain Adam Added
15-Sep-2021 21:33 Geno Updated [Source]
16-Sep-2021 06:21 harro Updated [Aircraft type]
16-Sep-2021 06:22 harro Updated [Operator]
16-Sep-2021 06:25 harro Updated [Registration, Cn, Source]
16-Sep-2021 06:28 harro Updated [Aircraft type, Source, Category]
16-Sep-2021 10:16 RobertMB Updated [Date, Time, Aircraft type, Narrative]
05-Feb-2022 00:59 Ron Averes Updated [Location]
17-Nov-2023 08:22 harro Updated [Other fatalities, Nature, Narrative, Accident report]
17-Nov-2023 08:24 harro Updated [Other fatalities, Category]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2024 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314