Accident Eurocopter EC 145 N911LZ, Monday 17 August 2009
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Date:Monday 17 August 2009
Type:Silhouette image of generic EC45 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Eurocopter EC 145
Owner/operator:Lee County Division Of Public Safety
Registration: N911LZ
MSN: 9040
Year of manufacture:2003
Total airframe hrs:2979 hours
Engine model:Turbomeca Arriel 1e2
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:near Upper Captiva, FL -   United States of America
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:Fort Myers, FL (FMY)
Destination airport:N Captiva Isl., FL (FL90)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
The emergency medical services (EMS) helicopter was on a night, over-water flight in visual meteorological conditions when the accident occurred. The pilot and two medical crewmembers were en route to pick up a patient on a barrier island. The pilot flew over the water with the autopilot engaged (altitude acquisition mode), at an altitude of 1,000 feet. While en route, the pilot unsuccessfully attempted to contact the fire department on the island to obtain landing zone information. When the helicopter was approximately 3 minutes from landing, the pilot selected 500 feet using the autopilot and the helicopter initiated a descent to that altitude. Unable to contact the fire department, the pilot likely became preoccupied with the task as well as the visual acquisition of the landing. The descent-power setting, which was manually controlled by the pilot, was not adequate to capture the selected altitude, and maintain 60 knots. As designed, the helicopter likely continued its descent with the autopilot engaged until it impacted the water. The pilot observed an amber indication on the primary flight display just before impact, which indicated the autopilot was engaged, and confirmed this most likely scenario.

A post-accident examination of the helicopter revealed no pre-impact mechanical anomalies. After the impact, the dispatcher initiated a re-boot of her computer, rather than a search for the helicopter, when the helicopter's movement stopped on her screen. However, the fire department on scene initiated a search, and the crewmembers were rescued within a short timeframe. Had the crewmembers sustained serious injuries during the accident, the dispatcher's failure to initiate a search may have reduced the survivability of the accident.
Probable Cause: The pilot's failure to arrest the helicopter's descent, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: ERA09LA464
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 8 months
Download report: Final report




Revision history:

17-Aug-2009 12:33 RobertMB Added
18-Aug-2009 11:36 Anon. Updated
19-Aug-2009 06:39 harro Updated
19-Aug-2009 12:23 Anon. Updated
21-Dec-2010 14:42 TB Updated [Aircraft type, Location, Source]
01-Nov-2012 12:54 TB Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Source, Damage]
23-Nov-2012 10:04 TB Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source]
06-Sep-2014 09:33 Aerossurance Updated [Narrative]
10-Sep-2014 09:24 Aerossurance Updated [Source]
21-Dec-2016 19:25 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
02-Dec-2017 15:58 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Other fatalities, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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