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N35AG accident description

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Tail numberN35AG
Accident dateJune 08, 1999
Aircraft typeAmerican Eurocopter AS-350B
LocationAshcamp, KY
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On June 8, 1999, about 1114 eastern daylight time, an American Eurocopter AS-350B, N35AG, was destroyed when it struck wires and impacted terrain during the initial climb after takeoff, in Ashcamp, Kentucky. The certificated commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the corporate flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The helicopter was owned and operated by a mining company. According to a company employee, the helicopter was being used to transport two company employees and three other passengers to local job sites, to view "high wall" mining equipment.

About 0930-1000, the helicopter departed the Tri-State/Milton J. Ferguson Field Airport, Huntington, West Virginia, with the pilot and the five passengers. The helicopter flew to a job site in Breathitt County, and then flew to the job site in Ashcamp, where it landed on the "Whitesburg Coal Level." The helicopter dropped off the five passengers, and then departed the landing area to refuel at the Pike County-Hatcher Field Airport, Pikeville, Kentucky.

A witness who observed the accident stated, the helicopter lifted off and climbed in a shallow nose down attitude, heading north. The helicopter traveled for about a 1/4 mile and struck two electrical wires. He then observed a flash of light and heard a loud explosion.

A witness who was one of the passengers on the inbound flight stated:

"...I heard a loud crack, like an explosion behind me. I turned around and saw the helicopter drop with the tail section and rotor separated from the main body of the helicopter..."

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight approximately 44 degrees, 4 minutes north latitude, and 75 degrees, 53 minutes west longitude.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

According to company personnel, the pilot had been employed by the mining company for over 20 years and had flown helicopters in Vietnam.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multiengine land, rotorcraft helicopter, and instrument airplane and helicopter. The pilot's most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first class medical certificate, was issued on September 25, 1998.

Review of the pilot's and helicopter's flight logbooks revealed that the pilot had logged about 6,330 hours of total flight experience, of which, about 3,590 hours were in helicopter's. The pilot had logged about 200 total hours of flight experience in helicopters between November 1996, and June 2, 1998; all in the accident helicopter, with the exception of a 3.1 hour flight review he received in a Bell 206, on September 17, 1998. The pilot had flown the accident helicopter about 25 hours, and 50 hours, 30 and 90 days prior to the accident, respectively.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The helicopter was maintained in accordance with an FAA approved manufacturer inspection program. Review of the helicopter's maintenance records revealed its most recent inspection was a 100 hour "S" inspection, which was performed on May 19, 1999. At that time, the helicopter had accrued 3,732.3 total flight hours, and 5,847 landings. The helicopter had accumulated about 6.5 hours since the inspection.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The weather reported at an airport about 23 miles south of the accident site, at 1054, included: Wind 320 at 5 knots; Visibility 10 statue miles, and Scattered clouds at 2,800 feet. One of the witnesses stated that the wind at the time of the accident was "calm," and visibility was "good." He further stated, there was light haze in the area.

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

Examination of the wreckage revealed the helicopter impacted two 46,000 volt electrical wires. The wires were part a five wire system which extended east and west for 2,875 feet, above the "Hazard Coal Area." The helicopter came to rest on a north/south road, on magnetic bearing of 120 degrees, about 485 feet from where the wires were located. The road was between vertical walls of a previously mined area, which was about 180 feet wide.

According to the mine site manager, the elevation of the accident site area was about 130 feet above the takeoff area.

According to the Power Company, because of the "sag" in the wires between the two support structures, the height of the wires in the accident site area varied from 181.8 feet to 242.6 feet above ground level. The wires were located about 1,800 feet, north of the takeoff area.

All major components of the helicopter were accounted for at the accident site. The main wreckage was consumed by a post crash fire. A 7 foot section of the helicopter's tail boom, which included the tail rotor was found on a ledge about 250 feet southwest of the main wreckage. The main rotor system was found about 20 feet northwest of the main wreckage.

The forward and aft cross tubes of the helicopter's skid were compressed downward. Additionally, the forward bottom section of the left cabin door was crushed upward, and inboard

Examination of the main rotor blades revealed several scrape marks and gouges consistent with a wire strike. Scrape marks were also present on the separated portion of the tail boom.

Flight control continuity was confirmed from the main gear box to the main rotor system, and from the tail rotor gear box to the point of the tail boom separation.

Both the compressor and turbine sections of the engine rotated freely, and mechanical continuity was confirmed to the transmission drive shaft. The engine's metal chip detectors were removed and found to be absent of debris. Additionally, the oil filter and fuel filter was also absent of debris.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot, on June 9, 1999, by the Office of the Associate Chief Medical Examiner, Frankfort, Kentucky.

The toxicological testing report from the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for drugs and alcohol for the pilot.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The helicopter's wreckage was released on June 11, 1999, to a representative of the owners insurance company.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.