Accident Eurocopter EC 145 N29VA, Sunday 6 March 2022
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Date:Sunday 6 March 2022
Time:23:59 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic EC45 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Eurocopter EC 145
Owner/operator:Virginia Department Of State Police
Registration: N29VA
MSN: 9374
Year of manufacture:2010
Total airframe hrs:3650 hours
Engine model:Turbomeca Arriel 1E2
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Category:Accident
Location:Virginia Highlands Airport, VA -   United States of America
Phase: Landing
Nature:Ambulance
Departure airport:Kingsport, TN (3TN5)
Destination airport:Abingdon-Virginia Highlands Airport, VA (VJI/KVJI)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Narrative:
The helicopter pilot had just completed a night public-use medical flight to a hospital and was returning to the base airport along with two flight paramedics. The pilot initiated the takeoff and increased power to enter a hover, at which time he observed (via engine instrumentation) an uncommanded surge (increase) in power, which he also heard. The pilot continued the liftoff into a low hover and found that, despite the momentary power surge, all engine parameters and flight controls appeared normal, so the flight continued to its operational base.
The pilot arrived at the base without any en-route anomalies and maneuvered the helicopter in the ramp area to align with a landing dolly connected to a tractor. The maneuver required the pilot to complete a right sidestep over the dolly. When visual alignment was attained, the maneuver required the pilot to reduce power to allow the skids to settle on the dolly.
During the sidestep maneuver, the pilot felt a skid touch down momentarily; however, he heard an engine surge that was similar to what he experienced during takeoff. Simultaneously, the helicopter abruptly entered a steep nose-low attitude and right bank and began rotating to the right 180° opposite of the direction of landing. The pilot lowered the collective and pulled the cyclic aft, and the helicopter impacted terrain about 50 ft east of the dolly's original location. (During the accident sequence, the dolly had been lifted and rotated from its original orientation and position.) Neither flight paramedic reported hearing or feeling an anomaly with the engines at any point during the flight.
Postaccident examination of the helicopter and its engines revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction or failure. The flight and throttle controls operated normally during postaccident testing. Both engines were removed from the helicopter and operated in an engine test cell. The engines produced normal power, and an uncommanded engine surge could not be duplicated when the engines were operated at various power settings.
Several witness marks were observed on the left edge, right top, and underside of the dolly, portions of which were painted yellow. Examination of the helicopter's skids revealed evidence of yellow paint transfer on the inboard forward area of the left skid. Additional yellow paint transfer was observed on the right skid forward area and rearward top portions. The forward portion of the right skid had sheared off; yellow paint transfer and an indentation were observed within that portion.
Available evidence suggests that the helicopter skids were misaligned during the attempted landing on the dolly, and the right skid likely fell into the dolly's 3.5-ft-wide center gap, which resulted in a rapid loss of helicopter control. This likelihood is consistent with the pilot's report that the helicopter abruptly entered a nose

Accident investigation:
cover
  
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: ERA22LA145
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 3 months
Download report: Final report

Sources:

NTSB ERA22LA145
FAA register: https://registry.faa.gov/AircraftInquiry/Search/NNumberResult?nNumberTxt=29VA

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/N29VA

Location

Media:

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
08-Mar-2022 22:49 Captain Adam Added
11-Mar-2022 01:10 johnwg Updated [Time, Nature, Source, Damage]
17-Mar-2022 20:50 Captain Adam Updated [Time, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Damage, Narrative, Category]
25-Mar-2022 15:23 Aerossurance Updated [Nature, Source, Embed code]
25-Mar-2022 15:23 Aerossurance Updated [Embed code, Plane category]
10-Jun-2023 08:42 Aerossurance Updated
16-Jun-2023 06:33 ASN Update Bot Updated
16-Jun-2023 06:35 harro Updated
26-Jun-2023 07:42 harro Updated

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